Opinion | Morgan Liddick: College campuses leave students speechless
On your right
“… The dictatorship of the proletariat imposes a series of restrictions on oppressors, exploiters, capitalists. We must suppress them … their resistance must be crushed by force …” — V.I. Lenin.
Harvard got an award. So did Yale. And UC-Berkeley, Brown, Oberlin, Princeton, Duke, Wesleyan and 42 other so-called institutions of higher learning, right down to Colorado College and Clemson.
But I doubt one will hear any chest-thumping or crowing about the achievement: The prize was the Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression’s annual “Muzzle Award,” given to the institution or individual who most contributed to snuffing out free speech in our country.
In the 1960s, university authorities around the country sought to limit students’ access to a wider variety of opinion than was present on campus. The reaction included the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and its clones across the country — all of which fought to widen the intellectual world in which students lived and worked. Now, the shoe is on the other foot: Students and faculty members wishing to remain in their good graces shout down, restrict or dispose of opinions, which disturb the orthodoxies of the Left so prevalent in academia today.
A gold star goes to Amherst College, where student protesters demanded zero-tolerance policies for “hate speech” and demanded censure of students who placed “All Lives Matter” signs around campus. Read that again: Amherst students demanded those who believe everyone’s life matters, regardless of color, should be punished for expressing the thought. Former Grand Wizard David Duke couldn’t agree more; unfortunately, Leftists lack the sense of irony necessary to see humor in that.
Add Mary Washington College, where students brought a Title IX lawsuit against the college administration for failing to implement a “speech code” because, well, a student might hear something which would cause anxiety or distress, and that would be unforgiveable.
An example of such a “speech code” was implemented by the Student Bar Association at the University of Missouri Law School. Forget that one of the rules was “Do not comment despairingly (sic) on others” — perhaps indicating that depression is rampant in Tiger land. How about “All statements must be true, accurate and not misleading,” without exception for parody, exaggeration or humor? And who is to say what is “misleading?” There are no guidelines, leaving the issue in the hands of an unholy academic Star Chamber, apparently drawing inspiration from “Lord of the Flies.” And in the conduct of which a student is entitled to neither representation nor appeal.
There are many more such, touching to a greater or lesser degree all the academic institutions of this country, not just the 50 standouts of shame that received the Jefferson Muzzle. Speaking as one who pressed for greater openness and discourse in the 1960s and early 1970s, few things could be more disgusting than this willful closing of students’ minds, this cowardly intellectual suicide.
There are many ideas in the world; some are beautiful and healing, others ugly and hurtful. Part of a decent education informs about how to discriminate among them and to understand that, while one has a right to feel outrage at the bad or hurtful, one has no concomitant right to do away with them by force or legal action — the favored tools of the Left. One combats bad or harmful arguments with good ones, not through a diktat against “Hate Speech” or by the constraint of a “Safe Zone.” America at large is a “Safe Zone,” in which we may all speak our minds. For the moment.
Clear in all of this is the final objective of the Left, which seeks through straight-jacketing speech in what passes for higher education today to gradually eliminate all possibility of counter argument against so-called “progressive” nostrums. They understand their case is fatally weak, so they work to suppress opposing voices by fair means or foul. And they have had successes, largely through the cowardice of their targets, the fecklessness of their accomplice administrators and the indifference of the public at large.
This is no joke. It is no intellectual exercise or abstruse discussion in an ivory tower. History has shown that, once given a foothold, the totalitarian hatred of opposition and counter argument spreads quickly, particularly if the institution in which it roots already sees itself as possessing a “higher truth.” Or, as Lenin said a century ago, “Free speech is a bourgeois prejudice, (and its) morality is entirely subordinate to the interests of the class war.”
Remember that the next time you hear someone howl about “hate speech.” Those are the words of someone who believes they must control what you hear, so they may control what you think. For the greater good, of course.
Crushing comes later.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily News.
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