“The text of the First Amendment is enshrined in our Constitution, but there are certain cultural values that undergird the amendment that are critical for its protections to have actual meaning. If that culture starts to wither away, then so too will the freedom that it supports.”
—FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai to the Washington Examiner, in an interview where he expressed concern that respect for First Amendment principles were diminishing, particularly on college campuses.
Isn’t it fascinating that so many of those who are concerned about the freedom of speech being diminished by political correctness have responded by supporting a Presidential candidate who regularly abuses the right of free speech, and whose response to protesters at his own speeches is to abuse them?
But I digress.
Today’s example of what Pai is talking about comes from California State University Los Angeles (CSULA), where president William Covino, responding to expressions of dismay from the same kinds of students who needed counseling at Rutgers, cancelled a scheduled speech by conservative pundit and Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro, and in a particularly Orwellian touch, did so citing the need for the “free exchange of ideas.”
Shapiro’s topic in his presentation to the campus chapter of Young America’s Foundation was “When Diversity Becomes a Problem.” Now, he will not be allowed to speak until he agrees to include opposing speakers in his program.
“After careful consideration, I have decided that it will be best for our campus community if we reschedule Ben Shapiro’s appearance for a later date, so that we can arrange for him to appear as part of a group of speakers with differing viewpoints on diversity. Such an event will better represent our university’s dedication to the free exchange of ideas and the value of considering multiple viewpoints,” said Covino. His position is hypocritical and dishonest on its face, but Shapiro and the YAF pointed out the problem anyway. Far left-wing activists like Cornel West and Angela Davis spoke at student events without opposing speakers rebutting them, they noted. “Did Covino go out of his way to ensure students attending any one of these events had the opportunity to ‘consider multiple viewpoints? Has he ever canceled other events for failing to meet his standard of ‘inclusivity?’” asked the YAF.
Shapiro, for his part, shifted to full rabble-rouser mode, as well he should. “The campus fascists have taken over,” he said. “I pay taxes in the state of California; I’m paying for these whiny children to be indoctrinated by radical leftists. For CSULA to pretend that they’re trying to provide balance isn’t just stupid, it’s insultingly stupid. I am the balance, and they’re too afraid to let me speak. These aren’t diversity warriors. They’re jackbooted thugs.”
Go get, em, Ben! Between Shapiro and his colleague Milo Yiannopoulos, Breitbart has finally found a constructive use for its generally warped and misleading conservative advocacy-masked-as-journalism. It’s journalists drive censorious, cowardly progressives crazy, and cause them to expose their true, anti-democratic, anti-free expression, totalitarian proclivities. That almost makes up for the junk Breitbart publishes every day, like its constant cheering-leading for Donald Trump.
There I go, obsessing about Trump again. Back to Pei: the cultural values that he was talking about have to be taught and reinforced in our colleges, among other places, if they are going to survive. Institutions like CSULA and educators like Covino aren’t merely wrong, they are betraying the nation.
Pointer: Res Ipsa Loquitur