Sunday, October 25, 2015

'Unfree' Speech on College Campuses and Throughout America ... Teaching and Learning the Wrong Things About American 'Exceptionalism'

Long ago Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote these timeless words, "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

Freedom of expression, including speech, is the right of every American citizen as embodied in, and guaranteed by, the U.S. Constitution.

But that's no longer the case. For example, today many colleges are restricting the right to say what we want when we want to say it. They are doing this by limiting the freedom of expression on campuses throughout the nation.

And that's not all there is to the story as free speech is under attack elsewhere In America as well. Almost all of our politicians don't dare to speak freely for fear of losing elections.

A new survey reveals that college students by a margin of 51% to 36% are in favor of further restricting freedom of expression. They favor instead such things as 'trigger warnings' by professors in an effort to make students more 'comfortable' in college classrooms. That's alarming.

Unfree Speech on Campus says this in pertinent part:

"Williams College (Tuition and fees: $63,290) has undertaken an “Uncomfortable Learning” Speaker Series in order to provide intellectual diversity on a campus where (like most campuses) left-leaning sentiment prevails. What a good idea! How is it working out? The conservative writer Suzanne Venker was invited to speak in this series. But when word got out that an alternative point of view might be coming to Williams, angry students demanded her invitation be rescinded. It was. Explaining their decision, her hosts noted that the prospect of her visit was “stirring a lot of angry reactions among students on campus.” So Suzanne Venker joins a long and distinguished list of people—including Ayaan Hirsi Ali, George Will, and Charles Murray—first invited then disinvited to speak on campus. It’s been clear for some time that such interdictions are not bizarre exceptions. On the contrary, they are perfect reflections of an ingrained hostility to free speech—and, beyond that, to free thought—in academia.

To put some numbers behind that perception, The William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale recently commissioned a survey from McLaughlin & Associates about attitudes towards free speech on campus. Some 800 students at a variety of colleges across the country were surveyed. The results, though not surprising, are nevertheless alarming. By a margin of 51 percent to 36 percent, students favor their school having speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty. Sixty-three percent favor requiring professors to employ “trigger warnings” to alert students to material that might be discomfiting. One-third of the students polled could not identify the First Amendment as the part of the Constitution that dealt with free speech. Thirty-five percent said that the First Amendment does not protect “hate speech,” while 30 percent of self-identified liberal students say the First Amendment is outdated. With the assault on free speech and the First Amendment proceeding apace in institutions once dedicated to robust intellectual debate, it is no wonder that there are more and more calls to criminalize speech that dissents from the party line on any number of issues, from climate change to race relations, to feminism and sex."

Summing Up

More and more, less and less of what made America great is on display.

Throughout too many of our institutions of 'higher learning' that are financed by taxpayers, including those of us who embrace the constitutional and inalienable right to speak our minds, free speech has become 'unfree.'

In fact, many politicians, teachers and other self-proclaimed leaders are even afraid to say that "All lives matter."

This growing American tendency toward greater government sanctioned intolerance coupled with fewer individual freedoms is alarming.

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

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