Stu­dents urge hos­tile acts on con­ser­va­tive ‘hate speech’

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY BRAD­FORD RICHARDSON

Con­ser­va­tives have come to ex­pect that they might be protested, ridiculed and dis­in­vited when they ven­ture to speak on col­lege cam­puses, but the penalty for telling stu­dents some­thing they dis­agree with has taken a more vi­o­lent turn.

But­tressed by an ide­ol­ogy that views “hate speech” as vi­o­lence and its sup­pres­sion as self-de­fense, stu­dents in­creas­ingly are re­sort­ing to the de­struc­tion of prop­erty and as­sault to keep con­ser­va­tive speak­ers quiet.

Stu­dents at Welles­ley Col­lege made the in­tel­lec­tual case for us­ing force to sti­fle free speech in an edi­to­rial last week, ar­gu­ing that “hos­til­ity may be war­ranted” against peo­ple who are “given the re­sources to learn” yet “refuse to adapt their be­liefs.”

“If peo­ple con­tinue to sup­port racist politi­cians or pay for speak­ers that prop up speech that will lead to the harm of oth­ers,” the stu­dents wrote in the April 12 edi­to­rial in The Welles­ley News, “then it is crit­i­cal to take the ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures to hold them ac­count­able for their ac­tions.”

The edi­to­rial was shared widely over so­cial me­dia — so much so that the stu­dent news­pa­per’s web­site crashed on April 14 be­cause of the vol­ume of traf­fic — and was

con­demned by con­ser­va­tives and lib­er­als alike.

Peter Wood, pres­i­dent of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Schol­ars, said the ideas ex­pressed in the edi­to­rial are not new. He traces their lin­eage to Ger­man philoso­pher Friedrich Ni­et­zsche, Ital­ian com­mu­nist the­o­rist An­to­nio Gram­sci and Ger­man-Amer­i­can philoso­pher Her­bert Mar­cuse, whose ideas greatly in­flu­enced the stu­dents of the New Left in the 1960s.

But Mr. Wood said the edi­to­rial “may be the first time in which the stu­dent news­pa­per at a highly re­spected lib­eral arts col­lege has found its way to­ward en­dors­ing what amounts to a Gram­s­cian op­pres­sion of free­dom.”

“It’s al­most ex­actly the same as the Com­intern in the Soviet Union: ‘We’re the freest coun­try in the world. You can say what­ever you want, as long as it agrees with the party.’ Now in­stead of the party, we have the con­sen­sus of Welles­ley stu­dents,” he said.

The edi­to­rial did not elab­o­rate on what “hos­til­ity” en­tails, but stu­dents at other schools clearly see noth­ing wrong with re­spond­ing to un­pop­u­lar speech with vi­o­lence.

Of­fi­cials at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Berke­ley on Thurs­day re­versed a de­ci­sion to can­cel an April 27 speech by con­ser­va­tive pun­dit Ann Coul­ter, af­ter hav­ing cited safety con­cerns. But Miss Coul­ter curtly dis­missed the univer­sity’s move, not­ing that it resched­uled her speech to May 2 and said her ap­pear­ance would go for­ward as planned on the 27th.

The Berke­ley cam­pus erupted into flames and ri­ot­ing in Fe­bru­ary when stu­dents sought to pre­vent an ap­pear­ance by con­ser­va­tive provo­ca­teur Milo Yiannopou­los, a for­mer ed­i­tor for Bre­it­bart News.

Af­ter Mid­dle­bury Col­lege pro­fes­sor Allison Stanger of­fered to mod­er­ate a talk last month with so­cial sci­en­tist Charles Murray, she was as­saulted by a mob of stu­dents protest­ing the event and had to wear a neck brace af­ter sus­tain­ing whiplash and a con­cus­sion.

Mid­way through her talk at Clare­mont McKenna Col­lege this month, prom­i­nent Black Lives Mat­ter critic Heather Mac Don­ald had to be es­corted off cam­pus when po­lice de­ter­mined that pro­test­ers had be­come too un­ruly.

While the ideas be­hind the Welles­ley edi­to­rial drew from a rich ta­pes­try of com­mu­nist and ex­is­ten­tial­ist the­o­rists, the only au­thor­i­ties it in­vokes, to sup­port a nar­row read­ing of the First Amend­ment, are the Found­ing Fa­thers.

“The Found­ing Fa­thers put free speech in the Constitution as a way to pro­tect the dis­en­fran­chised and to pro­tect in­di­vid­ual cit­i­zens from the power of the govern­ment,” the Welles­ley stu­dents wrote. “The spirit of free speech is to pro­tect the sup­pressed, not to pro­tect a free-for-all where any­thing is ac­cept­able, no mat­ter how hate­ful and dam­ag­ing.”

Mr. Wood said cam­pus rad­i­cals are “dead ig­no­rant” of the in­tel­lec­tual tra­di­tions into which they have been as­sim­i­lated. He com­pared stu­dents to­day un­fa­vor­ably with their 1960s coun­ter­parts, who at least “had the virtue of be­ing ed­u­cated in the things they re­jected.”

But Stan­ley Kurtz, a se­nior fel­low at the Ethics and Pub­lic Pol­icy Cen­ter, said the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the stu­dent rad­i­cals of the 1960s and to­day are more im­por­tant than their dif­fer­ences. He said both schools of thought are ul­ti­mately pred­i­cated on the de­struc­tion of the fam­ily unit and the re­jec­tion of sex­ual moral­ity.

“The ’60s rad­i­cals mixed pol­i­tics with drugs and worked to ‘smash monogamy,’” Mr. Kurtz said. “To­day’s more se­date rad­i­cals want to de­con­struct gen­der dif­fer­ences by bat­tling for ‘trans­gen­der’ rights. De­spite the dif­fer­ences, each gen­er­a­tion in its way is striv­ing to un­der­cut tra­di­tional fam­ily struc­ture and sex­ual moral­ity.”

If the ideas of the cam­pus rad­i­cals gain wide­spread ac­cep­tance, Mr. Wood said, it’s dif­fi­cult to en­vi­sion the long-term sur­vival of a self-gov­ern­ing re­pub­lic.

“It’s very hard to see if we have a self-gov­ern­ing re­pub­lic if a sub­stan­tial por­tion of the elec­torate were to be­come peo­ple who re­ject on prin­ci­ple the pur­suit of truth, the in­tel­lec­tual open­ness that is a pre­req­ui­site of pub­lic de­bate on im­por­tant is­sues,” he said. “Those are things that cut against the very foun­da­tions of the Amer­i­can re­pub­lic.”

Hun­dreds of stu­dents protested a lec­ture by Charles Murray last month at Mid­dle­bury Col­lege in Ver­mont, turn­ing their backs on the con­ser­va­tive au­thor, chant­ing, stamp­ing their feet and set­ting off smoke alarms.

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