Free speech, an actual right recognized by the United States Constitution, seems to be the one thing liberals don’t want the government to give them for free. By the way, the title of this column serves as the official trigger warning for the overly sensitive.
From banning commencement speakers, vandalizing pro-life posters and straight up calling for the abolition of free speech, the populist Left on university campuses have truly embodied their progressive values. It's much easier to declare victory in a political debate when your opposition is literally shooed off of campus. But hey, who needs freedom of thought and academia, am I right?
It's like child’s play, quite simply. When someone disagrees with you, just have mommy and daddy ban them from your house. It works brilliantly when you don’t want to face reality. Is someone challenging your group think logic? No worries, the University has speech codes and zones that can be arbitrarily used to suppress the Constitutional and moral rights of your peers. The best part is that these policies are so vast that they can be frivolously applied to target unfavorable ideologies.
This isn't about the free flow of ideas, the First Amendment or the rule of law, this is about feelings. And I have a feeling that the Left is just too sensitive. The messiah of the liberals, President Barack Obama, even recognized this major flaw in left-wing politics. At a town hall in Des Moines, Iowa, last fall, the president addressed the issue, mentioning his problem with liberals on college campuses protesting conservative speakers or literature that may be offensive to minorities. Obama proclaimed, “I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of views.”
Unfortunately, this issue actually isn’t limited to sensitivity. Under the guise of justice and equality have come the most anti-speech, draconian policies since the one’s protested by the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s. Those notorious University of California, Berkeley protesters would be staging a sit-in at Old Queens over the University's current speech codes and zones. Instead, the counterculture protesters of the '60s are witnessing the student Left of today hosting a sit-in at Old Queens to take away speech rights, not ensure them (see Condoleezza Rice). Hell, the Rice protesters had to utilize their First Amendment rights to mount pressure against the former secretary of state’s speech.
That is exactly what the Left has become today, a savage movement of hypocrisy. If universities answer the calls by liberals to increase speech regulation on campuses, it opens up an entirely new avenue on the march toward tyranny. At that rate, how can bleeding heart liberals canvass campus for Bernie? I guess there is always a price to pay, even if you’re sold on the idea of free stuff: free college, free healthcare, free guacamole at Chipotle. But the Left just wants you to have everything in life for free, except the freedom to disagree.
Over the past decade or so, liberals in academia have implemented speech restrictions on campuses across the nation. “Speech zones,” “public forum spaces” and “bias committees” are all administrative arms of universities. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a Philadelphia-based organization that protects the First Amendment and due process rights of students and faculty members across the nation, has given Rutgers a “yellow” light rating. In other words, the University has unconstitutional speech codes. But this can change, and FIRE has a track record to prove that.
Rutgers recently came under fire when language in their speech codes caught national attention last August. At one point, our own University's website read there is “no such thing as ‘free’ speech.” Welcome to the the land of the indebted and home of the censored, no?
If Rutgers wants to live up to its slogan of being revolutionary for 250 years, then it should stand up for some of the rights America fought the revolution over — the First Amendment. It is mind boggling that some of our peers actively call for the suppression of their own First Amendment rights, especially since it was written to protect minorities.
Politically incorrect Breitbart Technology Editor Milo Yiannopoulos is kicking off his tour of U.S. and U.K. colleges here at Rutgers. The topic, “How the Progressive Left is Destroying American Education,” has allegedly provoked calls for protests from leftist groups. If college is not a place to listen to opposing opinions and learn about new topics, then what’s its purpose?
Liberals should take advantage of every opportunity they have to learn in college. As Obama said, if they coddle themselves in college, they won’t be prepared for the real world. There aren’t speech codes and zones out there, yet.
Matthew Boyer is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in political science with a minor in German. Boyer is the New Jersey state chairman and Rutgers chapter president for Young Americans for Liberty. His column, “Legalizing Life,” runs monthly on Tuesdays.
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