Free Inquiry? Not on Campus
And the college speech police threaten the liberty of us all.
Remember when the Right had a near-monopoly on censorship? If so, you must be in your sixties, or older. Now the champions of censorship are mostly on the left. And they are thickest on the ground in our colleges and universities. Since the late 1980s, what should be the most open, debate-driven, and tolerant sector of society has been in thrall to the diversity and political correctness that now form the aggressive secular religion of America’s elites.
The censors have only grown in power, elevating antidiscrimination rules above “absolutist” free-speech principles, silencing dissent with antiharassment policies, and looking away when students bar or disrupt conservative speakers or steal conservative newspapers. Operating under the tacit principle that “error has no rights,” an ancient Catholic theological rule, the new censors aren’t interested in debates or open forums. They want to shut up dissenters.
In October, for instance, a student mob stormed a Columbia University stage, shutting down speeches by two members of the Minutemen, an anti-illegal-immigration group. The students shouted: “They have no right to speak!” Campus opponents of Congressman Tom Tancredo, an illegal-immigration foe, set off fire alarms at Georgetown to disrupt his planned speech, and their counterparts at Michigan State roughed up his student backers. Conservative activist David Horowitz, black conservative columnist Star Parker, and Daniel Pipes, an outspoken critic of Islamism, frequently find themselves shouted down or disrupted on campus
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