“Liberals do a great deal of talking about hearing other points of view, [but] it sometimes shocks them to learn that there are other points of view.” William F. Buckley wrote these words over half a century ago. However, as freedom of speech teeters on the verge of extinction across America’s college campuses, Buckley’s words ring just as true today.
UC Berkeley’s recent chaotic student riots in response to libertarian speaker Milo Yiannopoulos were not isolated incidents. Rather, they were just another link in the long chain of the left’s hostility toward freedom of speech, particularly when it comes to college campuses. According to the nonpartisan Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), universities disinvited thirty-six conservative speakers in 2016 due to “controversial subject matter.” Among these are thinkers such as political scientist Charles Murray, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker.
Among the most notable of those disinvited was author Ben Shapiro, who was scheduled to deliver a talk at DePaul University titled “When Diversity Becomes a Problem.” The DePaul administration issued a warning to its students prior to Shapiro’s arrival, encouraging them to call the police if they hear anything “offensive” during his talk. DePaul later disinvited Shapiro and threatened to have him arrested should he dare set foot on campus. Shapiro still made his way to the school, and asked a security guard upon arrival, “Just to be clear, if I attempt to enter that hall right there, and sit down, just to listen to somebody speak, or if I attempt to ask a question, or engage in free speech, you will have me arrested?” The guard replied, “At this point, yes, sir.” Freedom of speech—and the potential introduction of an alternative worldview—is so dangerous to DePaul’s student body, so toxic to their safe space bubble, that Shapiro’s mere presence is more than enough justification for the use of brute force and law enforcement.
While diversity of viewpoints asphyxiates under the pressure of micro-aggressions and safe spaces, universities add mandatory “cultural diversity training” and “racism symposiums.” Some of the schools with these courses include University of Pennsylvania; University of Southern California; University of California – Los Angeles; Boston College; and Yale University. The mandate of ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity makes intellectual diversity impossible. It instills fear of uttering an inadvertent “micro-aggression,” thereby abolishing the environment necessary for freedom of speech and open debate. When certain brave souls such as Ben Shapiro refuse to conform to the progressive narrative of minority oppression, they nearly suffocate underneath an avalanche of juvenile complaints from students and administration.
We are seeing a new generation of students emerge from universities, starved of the viewpoint diversity that is so crucial to their intellectual development. These students learn from classes such as Race and Racism in the Americas (USC) that, as this class description states, “everything descends from some form of institutionalized hate or hate speech.” Universities repeatedly deny students the opportunity to think critically and independently. The result of this suppression, as William Buckley observed, is students’ utter shock toward alternate points of view. As these students react with greater hostility to ideas not their own, the suppression of free speech looks darker still.