Im­ped­i­ments to free speech on col­lege cam­puses

The Kutztown Area Patriot - - OPINION - Jerry Shenk Colum­nist Jerry Shenk can be reached by email: jshenk2010@gmail.com

The at-large left’s knowl­edge of the United States Con­sti­tu­tion ap­pears lim­ited to hav­ing heard that Amer­ica has one. One won­ders if lib­er­als be­lieve the Con­sti­tu­tion, es­pe­cially its First Amend­ment, has any in­trin­sic mean­ing other than “what­ever we say.”

A re­cent Gallup poll re­vealed some ugly truths about the “high-minded,” self-su­pe­rior, left-wing stu­dent com­po­nent of the Demo­cratic Party — and the left gen­er­ally — among whom the word “in­clu­sion” has be­come its antonym — a eu­phemistic ex­cuse for ex­clud­ing — si­lenc­ing — even schol­arly con­ser­va­tive thought and speech.

Rather than the lim­it­less mélange of com­pet­ing con­cepts and ideas it should be, the left treats free speech as a zero-sum game. In sup­press­ing con­ser­va­tive speech, in­sti­tu­tional ac­tivists coun­ter­fac­tu­ally claim a “no­ble” pur­pose: set­ting aside “in­clu­sive” op­por­tu­ni­ties for “marginal­ized” peo­ple to be heard. Iron­i­cally, demonstrations are a cam­pus “thing.” Dozens of “marginal­ized” ac­tivist groups shout them­selves hoarse daily.

For­mer dean of Har­vard Col­lege Har­vey Lewis wrote, “The weaponiza­tion of ‘in­clu­sion’ is the most sanc­ti­mo­nious ex­er­cise I can re­mem­ber at Har­vard, and that is say­ing some­thing in a place never known for its hu­mil­ity.”

In Gallup’s poll, al­most half of stu­dents sup­port speech codes. 64 per­cent be­lieve “hate speech” isn’t con­sti­tu­tion­ally-pro­tected and should be out­lawed. Trans­lated, 64 per­cent think that their co­hort’s ten­der sen­si­tiv­i­ties limit the rights of oth­ers. Not co­in­ci­den­tally, the same kids re­serve for them­selves the ex­clu­sive, ex­clu­sion­ary right to de­fine “hate speech.”

In re­al­ity, they don’t be­lieve in free speech at all.

Pro­gres­sives only pre­tend that speech is a zero-sum com­mod­ity. The only cer­tain method for anx­ious, in­se­cure lib­er­als to pro­tect their moral/in­tel­lec­tual van­ity and win ar­gu­ments with con­ser­va­tives is to pre­vent them from speak­ing.

Tellingly, 37 per­cent of stu­dents think it ac­cept­able to ex­clude con­ser­va­tive speak­ers from cam­pus and shout down those who ap­pear. Worse, 10 per­cent of 3000 stu­dents sur­veyed be­lieve in the use of vi­o­lence to si­lence “dis­agree­able” speech.

Putting that in per­spec­tive, in fall 2017, 20.4 mil­lion stu­dents were en­rolled in Amer­i­can col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties. Sta­tis­ti­cally, then, more than 2 mil­lion stu­dents are or could be in fa­vor of us­ing phys­i­cal vi­o­lence to si­lence oth­ers with whom they merely dis­agree.

For fur­ther per­spec­tive, the Ger­man Nazi Party had about 2 mil­lion ac­tive mem­bers when it came to power in 1933 fol­low­ing a 1932 elec­tion in which Nazis took about 33 per­cent of votes cast — roughly 20 per­cent of the Ger­man pop­u­la­tion. Party mem­ber­ship was only 5.3 mil­lion when Ger­many in­vaded Poland. Com­par­ing sta­tis­tics, Amer­ica’s pu­ta­tive fu­ture, its as­pir­ing cam­pus brown­shirts — com­monly in­dulged and of­ten en­cour­aged by cer­tain like-minded fac­ulty and ad­min­is­tra­tion Gauleit­ers — have made an im­pres­sive start on im­pos­ing their own re­pres­sive regime.

Any­one who has read his­tory knows the ap­palling ex­cesses of the Ger­man Nazi ex­per­i­ment. The sur­viv­ing “Great­est Gen­er­a­tion” of Amer­i­cans who sac­ri­ficed to de­feat the Nazis and their Axis part­ners are ag­ing, so, daily, there are pro­gres­sively fewer Amer­i­cans with first-hand, in­sti­tu­tional mem­ory of the Nazis’ sin­is­ter record.

Without them, who will step up, call out and cor­rect their great-grand­chil­dren’s tyran­ni­cal, anti-con­sti­tu­tional, fascis­tic im­pulses?

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