One of the most troubling trends in America today is the growing anti-free speech attitudes of students and professors on college campuses. It is almost a year ago exactly that Melissa Click was fired from The University of Missouri for calling for “muscle” to remove a camerman during a campus free speech protest, yet the anti-free speech mentality of leftists on college campuses seems to be getting worse, and more violent.
This was shown when protesters at UC Berkeley set fires and assaulted supporters of Milo Yiannopoulos, who was slated to speak at the university. The protests caused the cancellation of Milo’s speech and caused over $100,000 worth of damage.
Some have claimed that the violence was justified on the basis of privilege (whatever that’s supposed to mean). Others site the rumor that Milo intended to “out” illegal immigrant students in an attempt to have them deported as a reason to support the outbursts. (Milo has denied those allegations)
The discussion of when violence is justified against people you ideologically disagree with is an important one to have and fits squarely into the larger context of current anti-Trump/fascist/neo-nazi protests across the country, but that is beyond the our scope here.
What is most troubling about this anti-free speech mentality is that it flies in the face of everything college is supposed to represent and reinforce. College is the time when young adults break away from their parents influences and begin to learn how to think, act and behave as an adult. Instrumental in this process are professors who challenge the belief systems of the student body and demand intellectual integrity.
But we don’t have that at all. We instead see too many self indulgent professors like Click setting the pace for the worst kind of anti-intellectual impulses of the students. This leads to students that are unable to refute the substance of their opponents arguments and instead resort to intimidation, threats, and, ultimately, violence.
The problem is that this mentality is counterproductive, both short and long term. Obviously, assault and destruction of property are non aggression axiom violations, but beyond that, violence alienates just about everyone who doesn’t already agree with you. It’s not only a way to not win people over to your position, it gives your opponent the advantage by providing extra publicity and the chance to play the victim.
If you have a better argument, make it. If you don’t have a better argument, learn one. That’s what college is for, after all.