The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns censorship of speech and discussion on nationwide university campuses. High school and university campuses should be places where vigorous debate and thought-provoking discussions should take place. We learn from hearing new ideas, pondering them, and deciding whether we support them or not. However, high schools and universities are intent on protecting the young minds from controversial topics and even go so far as to censor certain speakers and programs.
Sometimes groups on campus schedule and invite speakers and programs and are forced to cancel them due to university censorship. Carmel Kookogey posted an article recently at The Daily Signal that discusses censorship on university campuses. Her article discusses “the five biggest incidents of censorship of conservatives on college campuses in the past 12 months.” According to Charlie Copeland, president of Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) the five incidents are:
1. Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, claims to celebrate “a proud Jesuit liberal arts tradition.” Yet, it censored a debate planned by ISI students with a debate between three professors on the topic, “Why Bother With a Liberal Arts Education?”
ISI said George Mason University’s Bryan Caplan would argue that the study of liberal arts isn’t important, and Clemson University’s Brookes Brown would argue that it is important. Utah State University’s Harrison Kleiner was set as moderator.
“This wasn’t a panel discussion where we had one opinion; it was going to be a discussion of the value, good or bad, of a liberal arts education,” Copeland … told The Daily Signal.
Yet, on Nov. 5, about three weeks before the schedule event, the university informed ISI that it couldn’t approve the debate, without citing a reason….
The students put on their panel discussion at a nearby hotel instead.
2. Wake Forest University student Jordan Lancaster called out fellow students for overreacting to a fake campus campaign poster, and then she received death threats. The poster was condemned by the university president who announced an investigation. Most people agree that the poster was in bad taste, but Wake Forest should not have made a big deal out of it in the first place. By doing so, they turned a bad joke into a racial incident.
3. Notre Dame University “held a panel discussion on ‘whiteness’ during which faculty members expressed frustration with skin color as an ‘oppressive political condition.’” The panel consisted of our professors – three speakers and a moderator – and was hosted by the university’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. In spite of having four different professors, they all “argued that whiteness is oppressive.” They denied a European man the opportunity to ask a question, and one of them yelled “White power!” as the microphone was taken away from him.
4. Michigan State University student was threatened with removal from his elected position because he included his student government position in his email signature. The email was a recruitment letter for more conservatives for student government. The problem was that the other students thought the position indicated that the student government promoted conservative values at the school. The student did not lose his position, but there were some rule changes that could do so in the future.
Copeland pointed out that a student representative’s voting privileges already could be removed if the assembly finds that he or she has committed an inappropriate act.
“Because of the adding of that phrase, you’ve now equated physical violence – me punching you in the nose – as the same as my email saying I’m a member of student government,” Copeland said.
“The chamber defines that as a misrepresentation. It’s one thing to not hit somebody, but now I’m not even allowed to speak because the majority could say that in my speech, I misrepresented my constituency.”
This kind of censorship is what leads to “tyranny of the masses,” Copeland said.
“The rules are in place to protect the minority, because otherwise the majority could rule all the time,” he said. “It would be tyranny of the masses. Many of those people who fought those civil rights battles years ago are now in charge today, and they are reinstituting rules that allow for the tyranny of the majority, and that is a dangerous place for this country to go.”
5. Pitzer College in Claremont, California, “prohibited some student journalists from attending a student council vote that previously was to be open to the public, Copeland said. The Pitzer College Council, composed of students and faculty, voted in March to suspend Pitzer’s only Israel study abroad program, in an effort to keep American money out of Israel in support of the pro-Palestinian BDS movement, which stands for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions.”
The vote was advertised as an open meeting until journalists from a conservative student newspaper wanted to attend. They were told that it was “only for faculty, staff, and members of The Student Life staff,” a publication funded by the student government.
These are five different incidents at five different universities. In all incidents conservative students were censored in their speech and press freedoms. It appears that censorship is the rule on the campuses – at least as far as conservative students are concerned.