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In the age of Trump, cocooned college kids believe violence is okay to stop offensive speech



College students today have likely never been taught the basics of the Bill of Rights or why our nation’s founders valued protecting offensive speech from government prosecution. The term seditious libel has likely never been spoken to them. Unless these young adults come from a country like China or Thailand, where laws like Lèse majesté make it a crime to insult the king, they don’t know anything except the liberty of the U.S. First Amendment.

It’s therefore no surprise that a Brookings Institute study found that 1 in 5 college students think it’s okay to use physical force to silence someone who makes “offensive and hurtful statements.” They don’t understand the reason the First Amendment, protecting free speech against the government is necessary to preserve a government of the people. They are blind to the consequence of their ignorance.

If it’s okay for individuals to resort to violence to prevent someone from saying things that offend them, then shouldn’t it follow that when those people are voted into office, that they can use the power of government to stop free speech? If individuals believe in a right to their own speech, and also to a heckler’s veto, then those individuals, once elected to office, will ignore the First Amendment protections our constitution guarantees and use government power to enforce their will.

Our president has done nothing to disabuse these misguided young adults’ of their disastrous mistake. Back in 2016, ProPublica (admittedly liberal-leaning press) noted that Trump might represent the “return of seditious libel.”  Of course, nothing of the sort has occurred, or is likely to. Yet Trump’s penchant for legal revenge against reporters who besmirch his name makes the case that “might is right” in the battle of words.

And college kids don’t have the power of a few billions dollars. They do, however, possess the power of numbers and time on their hands to conduct protests. Add into the mix the professional activists, communists, and anarchists of Antifa, and you’ve got a recipe for violence.

The colleges themselves have done nothing to cure this toxic mix. Offering counseling and “safe spaces” for speakers like Ben Shapiro only reinforces the victim mentality that someone else’s words are hurtful in a physical sense. Allowing segregation to creep back into schools as a way of avoiding possibly being offended is turning our schools into training centers for future despots who would roll back our basic liberties of a free press and free assembly.


Students Defend Offense-Free Environment | Bob Shimshock, The Daily Caller percent of students surveyed indicate they favor creating “a positive learning environment for all students by prohibiting certain speech or expression” more than an “open” environment inclusive of all speech, according to a Brookings Institution poll.

Forty-four percent of students said “no” to a question on whether the First Amendment protects hate speech, while 39 percent of students said “yes;” 16 percent indicated they did not know. A plurality of Democrats — 41 percent — thought that the First Amendment did not protect hate speech, whereas 44 percent of Republicans asserted it did. Fifty-one percent of male students thought the First Amendment protected hate speech, however a majority of female students thought it did not.

The End Of The First Amendment | Daily Wire preparations for the visit were patently insane. First, the school charged the sponsor group, Young America’s Foundation, a $15,000 security fee. Then, the school blocked off the upper level of the auditorium, fearful that radicals from the violent far-left-leaning group Antifa would infiltrate the speech and begin hurling objects from the balcony onto the crowd below. Finally, the school ended up spending some $600,000 on additional policing, including the creation of cement barriers and hiring of hundreds of armed police officers for a prospective riot.

All this so that I could deliver a speech about personal responsibility and individualism.

A chilling study shows how hostile college students are toward free speech – The Washington Post were asked whether the First Amendment requires that an offensive speaker at a public university be matched with one with an opposing view. Here, 6 in 10 (mistakenly) said that, yes, the First Amendment requires balance.

Let’s say a public university hosts a “very controversial speaker,” one “known for making offensive and hurtful statements.” Would it be acceptable for a student group to disrupt the speech “by loudly and repeatedly shouting so that the audience cannot hear the speaker”?

Astonishingly, half said that snuffing out upsetting speech — rather than, presumably, rebutting or even ignoring it — would be appropriate. Democrats were more likely than Republicans to find this response acceptable (62 percent to 39 percent), and men were more likely than women (57 percent to 47 percent). Even so, sizable shares of all groups agreed.

Hate Speech & First Amendment: Not Protected, Say College Students | Katherine Timpf, National Review, kids: Not only does the Constitution protect hate speech, but it should protect hate speech. Is that because hate speech is good? No, I don’t like the speech that I consider hate speech, and that’s the point — everyone is going to have a different opinion of what is and is not “hate speech.” What some people consider “hate speech,” others might consider to be hilarious or even virtuous speech, and it would be dangerous to allow the government to decide what qualifies. Any time you start thinking the government should intervene to stop speech that you don’t like, realize that those exact same rules could eventually be used to stop your own speech.


Final thoughts

As the tweet above points out, nobody needs to defend speech with which everyone agrees. Only speech that’s offensive to someone, critical of the government, or hateful on its face requires protection. It’s not the government’s job to protect individuals from hearing speech that offends them. It’s not the right of individuals to use violence or force to prevent anyone else from speaking in public places.

And when individuals become the new guardians of our rights, they must not forget that offensive speech against the government or against anyone is protected. We’ve already lost that understanding among our university administrators. We’ve lost it among some of the largest American companies. Next we will lose it in the halls of government. When that happens, our democracy will be mortally wounded.

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