Student Radicals & Free Speech

David French, senior writer for National Review offers a chilling piece today titled “It’s Time to Crush Campus Censorship”.  There is a phrase uttered by Greg Lukianoff, President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education that reads, “college students are ‘unlearning liberty'”.  He sees these actions as pushing the “virus of censorship and oppression” beyond the university and into the nation as a whole.

The essence of this piece, quite simply, is frightening.  It is summed up as the idea that free speech does NOT mean a blanket permission to say anything anybody thinks.  It instead means, according to the radicals, “balancing the inherent value of a given view with the obligation to ensure that other members of a given community can participate in discourse as fully recognized members of that community.”  The idea is that these, the brightest bulbs in our country from their own points-of-view, should be protected from anyone else talking in ways that might disrespect their views of what is really right or wrong and that they ought to be able, essentially, to destroy our Constitutionally protected rights without fear of being questioned.

The radicals are laying claim to them being the only valid critics of democracy and that their belief system is so valid as to make us toss out that which we’ve held sacrosanct since the founding of this country.

The institutions of greater learning are failing by their permitting of these radicals to engage in the destruction of free speech in the name of free speech.  If that isn’t lunacy, there is no lunacy.  Our leaders are sworn to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.  That entails the pushing back of such ideas as the radicals are espousing to “preserve the constitutional republic” as French states in his article, and yet we do not see our public officials pushing back on the radicals’ thoughts.

Is this the realization of the derogatory term “snowflake”?  Do these radicals actually believe they are the smartest people on the planet or are they simply playing at being adult leaders?  Have they become so drug-addled that this seems wisdom to them?  And where are the university leaders who ought to be in front of this push to destroy this movement before we all are forced to “unlearn liberty”?

The Berkely campus is the existential lefty paradise and we now see just what that means.  Colleges have a responsibility, as well, to protect and defend our Constitution even as they permit ‘free speech’.  If the right cannot be permitted to speak at Berkeley, for example, that must be an indictment of this liberalism they have touted for years.  If their brand of liberalism is so fragile as to be threatened by a conservative’s thoughts, then even the liberals, bright as they are by self-definition, ought to be able to see the folly of their belief system.

Obviously, free speech works in both directions.  Those espousing one over the other need to be willing and prepared to defend their beliefs.  One side cannot simply denounce the other without providing the underlying rationale for the denouncement.  And then, the other side has the inherent opportunity to raise questions about the denouncing side.

This is “free speech”.  Free speech permits all to engage in the debate over whatever is being debated.  Free speech is not what the lefties seem to have come to believe.  Professors can become so enamored with personal belief systems as to lose sight of reality.  Campus administrators have a job to do, and that job is not to simply roll over in the face of these radicals.

The Founding Fathers got it right.  This new crop of lefties has veered off the highway of learning into the swamp of elitism and disparagement of all other beliefs that might be frightening to them.  Where does this end?  Will there be court opinions before too long?  If so, we can be assured this fight will span years since the left will do their best to “court shop”.

If this finds its way into the court system as it almost certainly will, we can see the wisdom of the seating of the most recent Supreme Court Justice.  We can see the importance of each of the 100 or so Federal judges that remain for President Trump to decide.  We can see how the campuses of ‘higher learning’ across this country impact this country…some for the worse and some for the better depending on one’s perspective.

The long and short of this is simply that when we fail to remain vigilant we risk losing all.  When we get sucked in by the siren’s song of the left, we risk losing all.  It falls to us as conservatives to assure that this country remains the haven of freedom for all that it was created to be, and to assure that, at worst, there is a balance between left and right.  And, that at best, there is a resurgence of conservatism especially at times such as we are in today when the liberals seem to have lost their ability to reason, as well as to learn from history.

It is unfortunate, indeed, that publicly-funded centers of higher learning are political entities and not simply repositories for what has been learned and proved over the centuries.  The debate that ought to occur on such campuses has to be conducted in the full light of day with both sides involved, but we know that is not where our educational system is at today.

As David French said at the close of this piece: at public universities, campus censors have the freedom to speak, but they do not have the freedom to oppress.

 

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