Shapiro ruckus at OSU sym­bolic of wider prob­lem

The Progress-Index Weekend - - OP-ED - Charita M. Goshay Charita M. Goshay is a colum­nist for the Can­ton Repos­i­tory.

Ohio State Univer­sity found it­self at the cen­ter of con­tro­versy yet again dur­ing a visit on Nov. 13 by con­ser­va­tive pun­dit Ben Shapiro, who was booed and heck­led by some stu­dents who were up­set at his ap­pear­ance.

Part of a niche of young, me­dia savvy con­ser­va­tives, Shapiro was con­fronted with taste­less and in­de­fen­si­ble chants of “John McCain is dead! Rea­gan is dead!”

The glar­ing hypocrisy of that chant is such that it blinds protestors to the irony that when they re­spond in such a man­ner, any claims of tol­er­ance are null and void.

Stu­dents have every right to protest, but some mea­sure of rea­son must be ap­plied. There’s a uni­verse of dif­fer­ence between con­ser­vatism, and some­one like white su­prem­a­cist Richard Spencer, who has noth­ing of value to of­fer anyone, or the the­ater-goer who de­cided last week to praise Adolf Hitler loudly dur­ing a per­for­mance of “Fid­dler on the Roof,” in Bal­ti­more.

Some au­di­ence mem­bers out ran in a panic, think­ing it was the start of a mass shoot­ing.

The nut­shell

That isn’t free speech or protest, that’s an act of do­mes­tic ter­ror; a dan­ger­ous stunt that in no way ever should be tol­er­ated.

But that isn’t what we’re talk­ing about here. Whether it’s the “Ser­mon on the Mount,” The Fed­er­al­ist Pa­pers, or Plato’s “Re­pub­lic,” be­liefs and ideas that might be an­ti­thet­i­cal to your own are sup­posed to make you feel un­com­fort­able.

That’s the en­tire pur­pose of col­lege in a nut­shell. It is sup­posed to stretch you, push you and de­mand that you de­fend your be­liefs through crit­i­cal thought, all to en­sure you are a dif­fer­ent per­son leav­ing the cam­pus than when you walked onto it.

The col­lege cam­pus is the one place where you are sure to en­counter peo­ple who pro­pose ideas, be­liefs and ways of liv­ing you never thought were pos­si­ble.

No joke

Philo­soph­i­cally speak­ing, it isn’t sup­posed to be a “safe place.”

Young pun­dits, con­ser­va­tive and lib­eral, who make their liv­ing on the cam­puss­peak­ing cir­cuit, won’t al­ways hold the same views they es­pouse now. Time has a way of tem­per­ing cer­tainty, and real life of­ten makes quick work of self-right­eous­ness.

That said, stu­dents have every right to take is­sue with cer­tain speak­ers, but they can­not be al­lowed to be the uni­lat­eral ar­biters of de­cid­ing which views are ac­cept­able to hear.

Every per­son in pub­lic life has said some­thing that has an­gered and/or of­fended oth­ers, par­tic­u­larly co­me­di­ans, some of whom have stopped per­form­ing at col­leges out of frus­tra­tion or from fear of spark­ing con­tro­versy. And that’s a shame.

Though stu­dents tend to ac­quire a sense of own­er­ship about their cam­puses that lasts all their lives, they can’t be per­mit­ted to dic­tate who can speak and who can­not.

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