Sunday, April 26, 2009

Free Speech? I Think Not

Despite allegedly being bastions of liberalism, American’s elite universities are deplorably illiberal. Take the recent incidents at University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Former Congressman Tom Tancredo ( was brought to UNC by an on-campus group to give a speech about illegal-immigration. Before he could even start a group of anti-dialogue leftists unfurled a banner across the podium. They chanted loudly and prevented Tancredo from speaking. (See Michelle Malkin’s blog for a video of the event The speech was never given.

This is, unfortunately, just one of far too many examples of the left’s desires to quash free speech on America’s university campuses. This is a bit ironic if you accept the Democrats’ rhetoric that they are the supporters of free speech. The irony fades if you understand Democrats not as supporters of free speech, but abusers of the philosophical concept of free speech to establish their beliefs as the only acceptable dialogue. Democrats, and particularly Democrat organizations on these campuses, use the term ‘free speech’ as a ploy to signify the freedom for left-wing ideas. However, when dissenting views arise, the notion of free speech is cast aside. It becomes embarrassingly clear that free speech is not a true principle of the left, but a figure of speech.

This is terribly concerning. Our institutions of higher learning should be the exemplar of free speech. Politically active people on campus should, not by law, but by policy and ideology be committed to the open and free discussion of ideas and policies. There should be no more perfect place for the free movement of ideas than at these universities. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

These liberal groups, which have now become the majority on campuses, seek to do what their platforms supposedly rail against. They claim to be representative of minorities. They claim to speak for the oppressed. Maybe at one point they did, but unfortunately the term minority has lost its true meaning. ‘Minority’ is not supposed to solely refers to racial classes in America, but to any viewpoint, ideal, or characteristic that is not is not ‘mainstream’. Democrats have hijacked the term, and claimed unmitigated representation of minorities.

However, when a group or idea that was once a minority becomes accepted by the mainstream, its proponents no longer have a role in defending that minority. Now they become the oppressors as they seek to use the same ‘protect the minority’ language to further their partisan agendas. This is seemingly what has happened in the women’s and black’s rights movements. Two noble causes that fought for and justly gained equality some 50 years ago, now no longer have much of a purpose. Yet they push on with bankrupt and out of touch leaders such as Al Sharpton.

This is the same phenomenon that we see on college campuses today. These misguided youth are fed a steady diet of illiberalness from professors and national organizations. When professors post pictures comparing George Bush to a monkey, or laugh at students that express different beliefs, or prevent students from open discussion (all of which has happened to me) an altogether restrictive environment is established. Students are not taught to think liberally but to think Liberally. The difference is that true liberals are open to discourse and dialogue. They want to learn and hear each other out. However, Liberals are simply those that tow the Democratic Party line. The Democrats try to claim these two concepts are one and the same, but they are clearly not.

It is necessary for Democrats to be truly liberal, not just Liberal. This should be a matter of policy. I do want to emphasize that I am not so convinced this is a free speech issue. I think private institutions (on the issue of public universities such as UNC I think this is a bit more hazy) have a right to approve and disprove of who speaks on campus. Inappropriate and un-educational hatemongers, such as Ward Churchill, should rightfully be precluded from speaking and teaching. That being said, as a matter of policies these universities should keep true to their supposed mission and allow open and free dialogue. Disrupters of this, whether on the left or right, should be punished accordingly. Preventing someone from speaking is not an exercise in free speech. Differences should be settled and discussed by allowing both sides to have the podium- and both sides being able to hear the other.


  1. I agree that this is a very alarming trend, but i don't think that it's isolated to the left wing. The far right is at times just as guilty, especially when it comes to issues such as economics, gay marriage and abortion.

    Both sides try to portray themselves as neutral and balanced, yet they refuse to listen to the the opposing side's arguments. Instead of debating the issues at hand, everyone seems to prefer to attack the other side ad hominem

  2. D-
    I don't disagree. I think there is a lot of rhetoric on both sides of the aisle. Far too many politically-minded people, whether Democrats or Republicans are too quick to throw out talking points, or accept or discredit an idea simply by party lines. That is one of the intents of this blog- to bring a great intellectualism and scrutiny to politics. I believe discourse and debate, and actually listening to the other side will lead to better policy.
    Rhetoric is harmful, but it reaches a whole new level of harm when one side has monopoly control of an institution. That is the point here. Democrats undisputedly have control of the elite academic institution in America and unfortunately use that control to set agendas and prevent dialogue. The aim of this post was to show that the supposed liberalness of the Democratic Party is being cast aside in the name of the party line. And that is dangerous. [I am not necessarily claiming it would be any different if the majority of Republicans were in control- different agenda same system.]
    I think when a party is in majority of an institution they have an obligation to preserve the system and allow open discourse. This doesn't mean a so-called affirmative action program for Republicans on college campuses, but does mean that the floor should be open to all discussion and debate.


"Reading makes a full man, meditation a profound man, discourse a clear man." - Benjamin Franklin

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