There is no way, I have suggested, that the actions and rhetoric from the protesters at the University at Missouri clamoring for “safety” and an end to incidents of upsetting speech have any place to go except campus censorship by force. To the extent that the African- American students’ conduct has wider aspirations that extend beyond the campus to U.S. society, they threaten free speech, communication and thought in our society as well. Of course, it must have these aspirations: college is supposed to prepare one for the real world, not to render you more vulnerable to its challenges.
Since the defining character of progressive rhetoric in 2015 is double-talk and ambiguity (for example, “immigration reform,” which really means “no illegal immigration enforcement,” or “mass incarceration,” which means “blaming criminal activity on laws and law enforcement rather than too many people choosing to break laws”), it has been hard to get an explicit statement out of sympathizers that confirm my conclusion. Their intent has been clear, as in the episodes where journalists have been muscled away from “safe” places. Others have interpreted the students’ complaints and demands to require censorship by threat of sanctions, as shown by the Mizzou police e-mail telling students to report “hateful or hurtful speech or actions” and their perpetrators, laying the foundation for an elite, racially-based group of campus inquisitors who have the power to define the hate and haters and send them to a metaphorical stake. The students’ words, however, have remained oblique.
Fortunately, here comes Mizzou student body VP Brenda Smith-Lezama to clarify. She was talking to MSNBC about the declared “safe spaces”—which means, for those who need another translation, this means “places on campus where the Bill of Rights doesn’t apply”—and spat out this:
“I personally am tired of hearing that First Amendment rights protect students when they are creating a hostile and unsafe learning environment for myself and for other students here. I think that it’s important for us to create that distinction and create a space where we can all learn from one another and start to create a place of healing rather than a place where we are experiencing a lot of hate like we have in the past.”
Fortunately, Brookings Institute (That’s the liberal one, remember) Senior Fellow Jonathan Rauch, and the author of “Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought”, had just offered the rebuttal to Smith-Lezama confused view of education in an op-ed the day before. He wrote in part… Continue reading