Riots at American colleges to prevent unpopular speakers are becoming more and more commonplace. Berkeley and Middlebury may well be the beginning of a new tactic with leftist students to silence their opposition.
Of course, new bills designed to prevent the rioting are being attacked on grounds that they … infringe on students’ freedom of speech:
The intent of these bills isn’t to protect student speech; it’s actually to suppress it in favor of guest speakers who, at times, support white nationalism, LGBTQ discrimination and other hateful worldviews. By funding the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute, wealthy conservatives are enabling the promotion of hate speech while stifling student dissent.
Whether or not Koch, for example, agrees with the hate speech he indirectly sponsors, he certainly benefits from a more friendly academic environment for far-right ideologues who often deny climate change and praise his extreme brand of tax- and regulation-free capitalism.
The Goldwater Institute’s model bill allegedly ensures “the fullest degree of … free expression,” but it explicitly states that “protests and demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity shall not be permitted and shall be subject to sanction.”
It goes on to say, “Any student who has twice been found responsible for infringing the expressive rights of others will be suspended for a minimum of one year, or expelled.”
Under this code, imagine that a student protests a climate change denier and gets a brief suspension. Then the College Republicans group brings in a full-on white nationalist. Will this student do what she thinks is right and protest a racist who’s given a platform at a respected university, or stay home because she’s risking expulsion?
This campus “free speech” legislation is essentially an attack on student speech and an elevation of ultra-conservative ideas that many people in university communities think have no place in American society.
Keep in mind this bill specifically targets activities that infringe on someone else’s right to free speech. A peaceful demonstration does no such thing.
Setting fires, throwing rocks, and assaulting people is a whole other kettle of fish — and that is apparently what this student fears losing the “right” to do.
If there are concerns that the proposal is too vague, I might be willing to listen. However, most of those who are taking issue with it aren’t doing so because they’re worried it will be misapplied to those who peacefully protest. They’re taking issue with it because it’s another tool that can be used against those who engage in politically motivated violence and threats in an attempt to quell disagreement with their positions.
By trying to silence their opposition, they’re admitting they can’t win in the market of ideas. Maybe these measures will force them to step up and at least try harder to present sound arguments.