Of all the freedoms enshrined in our Bill of Rights, freedom of speech takes perhaps the highest priority. During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton said “We have the most tolerant and generous young people we’ve ever had” to wild applause. Apparently, she has not been on a college campus lately.
A 2016 Gallup poll found that 69% of students in college believe that certain things termed “hate speech” should be banned. But, this is the most tolerant people we have ever had. About 63% of students believe colleges should ban costumes deemed offensive to some group. Yet, this is the most tolerant people we have ever had. In another poll in 2015, 97% of self-identified liberal students support free speech, but 54% believe the Confederate flag should be banned. And again, this is the most tolerant people we have ever had. Hillary Clinton’s definition of “tolerance” does not square with the dictionary definition.
About 48% of college students support mandatory sensitivity training on campus and 53% believe that words actually constitute “violence.” In other words, students support the First Amendment right to free speech PROVIDED it does contain “offensive” language, is devoid of “hate,” and does not “stereotype” someone. Of course, some of these best people we have ever had usually cannot answer what constitutes “offensive,” “hate,” or even define a “stereotype.” Put yet another way, the right to free speech is now trumped by someone’s alleged right not to be offended.
Think about it: if the First Amendment allows for “hate” speech to be banned, what good is it? Why a need to defend and enshrine “love” speech? The Left claims they are advocates of free speech. Hitler and Stalin made the same claims. If you are really for free speech, then you would defend the right of people to speak that which you utterly despise.
This should not be a liberal versus conservative argument. Allowing one side to dictate what can be heard or what can be said is totalitarianism, but then that never stopped a Leftist.
There are, admittedly, rhetorical bomb-throwers on the Right, but that is hardly unique to the Right. Many of the sentiments from Leftist activists far exceed the alleged hate speech of people like Ann Coulter, Ben Shapiro, David Horowitz and Charles Murray. One does not hear Right wing groups of whatever stripe violently protesting Leftist speakers on campuses or elsewhere. One does not hear of colleges exacting $15,000 security fees for a liberal speaker. Conservatives do not need safe spaces and counseling.
It is ironic that today’s progeny of yesterday’s free speech movements are today the self-designated gatekeepers of acceptable speech. Things have certainly come full circle. Today’s college student and tomorrow’s leaders are afraid of any view that may shake their little world. God forbid facts get in the way.
What the Left further fails to realize is that a conservative’s view of unfettered free speech does not mean anyone on the Right necessarily agrees with the speaker in whole or part. And we do not negate a Constitutional right because a certain percentage of people in a poll believe it perfectly acceptable to do so. There is no designated speaker for the Right and conservatives should and must call out speech with which they disagree in a civil manner, but never ban it.
Most of the people in the audience of the speaker are an echo chamber, except those who attend not to debate in a reasonable manner, but to disrupt. If 500 people show up to see, for example, Ben Shapiro, does the Left believe their antics are going to change the views of 500 Ben Shapiro listeners? Perhaps they could if they behaved in a civil manner.
When the right to free speech is restricted or negated, we have ceased to be a free country. That is why this topic is so important and why every conservative, if they are not squishy, must remain steadfast in this belief. There is no moral relevancy on this issue. Either you are for free speech with no equivocations or you are not for free speech.