In recent days, college students have shouted down, pepper-sprayed, punched and otherwise shut down the campus guests whose ideas they considered offensive.
The most prominent recent cases have included Milo Yiannopoulos (University of California, Berkeley), Charles Murray (Middlebury College), and Heather MacDonald (Claremont McKenna College), but a number of institutions have disinvited scheduled speakers and disciplined students or professors for expressing their ideas.
Brown University, Johns Hopkins University, Williams University, and other schools succumbed to student pressure by disinviting scheduled speakers whose views some students find offensive.
The College of William & Mary, the University of Colorado, and De Paul University went so far as to discipline students who criticized affirmative action. The University of Kansas even disciplined a professor for criticizing the National Rifle Association.
To read the rest of this post, originally published at The Daily Signal, click here.
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I shared this post (actually the full version from The Signal) on my facebook Fan Page.
I am highly spiritual, but not religious; however, I check out your blog from time to time, and have recommended it to my other ‘secular’ friends. Somewhere along the way, too many in the religious right became focused on the Old Testament, and overlooked the enormous obligations required by the New Testament. Your posts still include considerations about compassion, and ‘keeping one’s brother’. Those are important to me.
And it is not a small thing. I think your approach could be a bridge between liberals and conservatives. I believe there is room to talk about GHW Bush’s ‘Compassionate Conservatism’, make it palatable to the left, and create political compromise.
Beyond that, my first thought is you really want to include Roger Williams in this discussion. The Puritan gave us freedom of expression, as well as separation of church & state — to protect the church, not the state. As John Barry interpreted Williams’ thought in his biography, “When you mix religion and politics, you get politics.”
My other thought is that you have examined instances where liberals have shut down free speech from conservatives, which may present a sampling error. All of these became contentious when ‘liberal’ administrations allowed objectionable ‘conservative’ content on their campuses, and students objected. But consider: would Liberty University give permission for someone to argue for gay marriage?
It’s not theoretical. I published a book some years back, where I included concepts of biological change that do not violate fundamentalist Christian concerns; that dogs and wheat and bacteria, and yes, even humans, have changed in small ways in the course of civilization. I call it ‘small evolution,’ to distinguish it from speciation and ‘large evolution’. Small evolution does not violate creationism. I even posted ‘A Scientific Defense of Creationism’ on my blog: http://bookscrounger.com/2015/12/01/a-scientific-defense-of-creationism/
Anyway, my book sincerely tried to present ideas that would be acceptable to the religious right. When I began promoting it, I approached a religious college about doing a book signing. I did not ask to speak, I simply wanted sign books. The woman in charge was apologetic, she personally did not object to my book, but she knew that the administration would never allow such a thing.
So perhaps conservative colleges don’t have these protests, because controversial speakers aren’t even given permission to speak. Again, it may be a sampling error.
Come to think of it, I may do a post on that topic, as well.
Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Yes indeed, Roger Williams would be a good person to profile in one of these posts. I’d put it a tad differently than Barry’s description. I’d say its fine, and in fact inescapable, to mix religion and politics. But it is unwise and harmful not to separate church and state. So I see the religion/politics and church/state questions as different from one another.
You’re right that most of the instances I gave were of liberals shutting down conservatives. But I did include the U. of Kansas silencing a person for criticizing the NRA. But I agree that freedom of speech and religious liberty face threats from the left and the right.
As for religious institutions of higher ed., some are confessional institutions (a liberal democracy exists precisely to create the space for the various illiberal institutions of society). I see those differently. But I do think public institutions and non-confessional private institutions have some answering to do, concerning why they shutter the speech of people who reflect the diverse population of America.
There are a number of conservative colleges and universities who require a broad spate of reading, a diverse selection of guest speakers, etc. But you’re right that many conservative institutions would be well-served to have a little bit more debate on campus.