Day after day we read of cases in which a speaker was shut down on a college campus, a group was denied a forum or chased from the public square, or free inquiry was snuffed out because there might be words uttered or written that could “hurt” someone. Will the administrators and professors who refuse to punish this behavior, and even sometimes support it, ever understand that the invented grievances aren’t about offense but about having power over others?
Just this week, The College Fix reported that a University of Virginia student wrote in The Cavalier Daily that it was dangerous for former Vice President Mike Pence to speak on campus. In the mind of that student, speech that bothers her is “not entitled to a platform.”
Earlier this month, The Fix covered the story of a black, female Christian scholar who won’t be returning to Christopher Newport University after spring semester because she tweeted an unapproved but entirely harmless opinion.
Then there’s what’s become known as the “Yale shout down incident,” in which students protesting the appearance of a female speaker from the Alliance Defending Freedom not only stopped a free-speech event, they also disrupted learning in other parts of the building where the panel was being held. That the riotous, violence-threatening students might be shut out of federal judicial clerkships when they graduate is merely a good start to the punishment they deserve.
Another example from just this month is the story of a State University of New York-Cortland professor who was reported to the school’s bias team – the campus Stasi? – for the offense of stating the obvious, that race relations have improved since the 1930s, and “we should be proud of how far we’ve come as a society relating to race and gender relations.”
Of course this is but a short list. The examples roll in almost daily, and with rare exception, college officials side with the anti-speech bullies, even when the chased-away speakers are on the political left. An overwhelming number of administrators and professors want their campuses to be, they say, safe spaces for those who aren’t as “privileged” as others. They see themselves as guardians of decency, compassionate and caring.
Apparently they’re too dense to understand they’re being manipulated. The student activists who live to interfere with the rights of others through intimidation and, too often, real violence aren’t interested in protecting themselves and others from threats and sad feelings. They simply want to play with college officials as if they are their puppets.
Which is exactly what they have become. Fearful minions. And they’re not even aware that they’ve become useful idiots for trust-fund babies looking for a thrill, and spoiled pre-adults desperate to boost their status.
The activists also enjoy having power over speakers by forcing them to alter their plans under the threat of violence and robbing them of free-speech forums. They violate student organizations’ right to offer their literature on campus through the destruction and theft of their property, and demand suspensions and expulsions for students whose speech they don’t like.
There are occasional instances of campus officials acting as adults. But not enough. Sad but true, most are just too dense to understand what is happening around them.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board