One can hardly miss the news reports over recent months of speakers on college campuses being shut down by protests, in several cases violent protests. At the University of California-Berkeley, a professor who disagreed with the speaker but who felt the speaker should be allowed to speak was bloodied in the process. Just this year, there are several institutions of higher learning that cancelled controversial speakers because of protests who desired to shut down any opposing speech. Many, such as Berkeley, once promoted freedom of speech for even the most radical of ideas.
The latest in the string of anti-free speech attacks came from Wellesley College. The editors of the campus paper, the Wellesley News last week did not attempt to be so subtle in their attack on free speech and summed up the attack on the First Amendment sweeping America’s campuses.
In arguing there is no absolute right to freedom of speech they wrote, “Shutting down rhetoric that undermines the existence and rights of others is not a violation of free speech.”
Well, actually it is exactly that. Shutting down speech is the definition of a violation of free speech.
“The spirit of free speech is to protect the suppressed, not to protect a free-for-all where anything is acceptable, no matter how hateful and damaging”, they continued.
First, yes, freedom of speech is exactly a ‘free for all’ where we are all free to say what we want. We don’t, and shouldn’t, have to get permission from some self-appointed ‘speech police’ to speak. The Supreme Court and other federal courts have been pretty unanimous in that. The older among us will remember federal courts upholding the rights of the repugnant Nazi Party to march in the largely Jewish Chicago suburb of Skokie as possibly the starkest demonstration of the defense of free speech by the courts. Or we could go back to those days at Berkeley where Black Panthers advocated violence to overthrow the system they were against.
Yet, they also fail to see their own hypocrisy in that statement. The oppressed that they say they are defending are not the ones that they picture as they sit around sipping lattes at the library. The suppressed on most college campuses these days are anyone who dares to think independently and express any ideas that are different then the liberal, progressive, politically correct dogma that has become close to a religion.
But the Wellesley News editors don’t stop there. They advocate violence against people who dare speak something they consider offensive!
“If people are given the resources to learn and either continue to speak hate speech or refuse to adapt their beliefs, then hostility may be warranted,” the editorial reads.
In other words, education is now all about indoctrination — with stubborn holdouts subject to denunciation and, implicitly, violence. This is what a Wellesley education means to them.
But this is not just some crazy, wacked out students who happened to get control of a student newspaper. It appears to the pervasive culture of that college. The faculty on the school’s Presidential Commission on Race, Ethnicity, and Equity recently wrote that controversial speakers are exhausting the poor kids: “The speakers in question impose on the liberty of students, staff, and faculty at Wellesley.” Students must “invest time and energy in rebutting the speakers’ arguments . . . This work is not optional; students feel they would be unable to carry out their responsibilities as students without standing up for themselves.”
<Gasp!> Students have to stand up for themselves, defend their argument and rebut someone else’s argument?! That’s so…so….like making them work and think independently. How appalling! What kind of professor would actually ask that of a student?
Having to do that is an injury according to these Wellesley professors. Call me crazy, but isn’t that what college is all about—learning think critically, while being exposed to a diverse collection of ideas from all possible perspectives? (Oops, ‘diversity’ is only good when used in a politically correct context and that statement probably violated some rule against injuring people who disagree, with those words. But I digress…..)
The anti-free speech, anti-First Amendment attitudes and actions coming from college campuses are troubling and are a danger to our society. The explicit expressions of a desire to suppress any opposing speech at Wellesley, even with violence if necessary is something that never would have even been uttered only a short time ago and tells us how far the problem has gone and how extreme the leftist elitists have become in attacking fundamental American values and basic rights. We should all be concerned and on guard.