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The real danger of quashing voices like Ben Shapiro’s on college campuses

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Why is it that so many colleges react negatively when a conservative speaker is booked to do an event on campus? It seems lately the words many college administrators dread the most are, “Young America’s Foundation has invited Ben Shapiro to speak on campus.”

It isn’t just Shapiro, but he’s conspicuous for two reasons. First, the unhinged hatred towards him is not congruous with his level of offense. Yes, he will offend people sometimes as the truth invariably does, but he’s not David Duke or Louis Farrakhan. Somehow, he’s able to stir up such positive and negative responses on college campuses that one might think President Trump himself was making an appearance.

The second reason he’s conspicuous is because his protesters don’t have valid reasons to protest him. They’re forced to pull from their own irrational fears of him that have been conjured up out of fiction. He’s a devout Jew, yet protesters call him Hitler. He’s adamantly opposed to authoritarianism, yet protesters call him a fascist. He’s one of the most targeted journalists in America by white supremacists, yet for some reason protesters seem to think he’s a white supremacist.

Gonzaga recently claimed their reason for not allowing Shapiro to speak on campus is because his speeches “routinely draw protests that include extremely divisive and hateful speech and behavior, which is offensive to many people.”

They weren’t accusing him of being offensive, which colleges often cite when rejecting speakers like Suzanne Venker or Milo Yiannopoulos. Instead, they were accusing him of drawing protests that were offensive. Let that sink in for a moment. Here’s a speaker that a good chunk of any college campus wants to hear and a bigger chunk needs to hear, but he’s being quashed because of the protests that rise up when he speaks. I’m not going to go into a long rant about mob rule. Either you see it in play here or you don’t.

Commentators, particularly conservative ones, often discuss how colleges have a problem with free speech. Colleges often counter by having “free speech zones” or their polar opposite, the much maligned “safe space.” They might hold free speech events before cancelling them over someone’s… speech. Hmm.

But here’s the problem with framing the issue in this way. First, it adds to confusion about what free speech is and isn’t. The 1st Amendment, which is the first thing that comes to mind when people invoke “free speech,” has very little to do with what’s happening on college campuses. Our Constitutional right to free speech is a protection against government suppressing speech for unlawful reasons. What’s happening on college campuses is different. Now, thanks to the ugly protests that have been following conservative speakers, private AND public colleges can invoke safety concerns whenever a heavily protested speaker is planning on coming to campus. The progressive puppetmasters have known this for decades. That’s why they spark the protests in the first place. It’s a dirty little secret the organizers of these protests will never mention. By allowing their protests to turn violent, they set the precedent by which universities can turn away controversial conservative speakers. It’s not spontaneous in most instances. It’s done by design.

The second reason we shouldn’t frame the issue as one about freedom of speech is because we can debate all day about it, but the best we can hope for is a logical victory that does nothing to change the situation. We shouldn’t allow the left to drive the narrative within the futile debate over free speech. Instead, we need to address the core issue, which is the systematic quashing of free thinking.

If you read the introduction page of any college in America, they all claim to nurture free thinking among their students, but this is absolutely false. They only nurture thoughts that align with their progressive agendas. Students are free to think whatever thoughts are approved of within these leftist echo chambers. Progressives are free to do or say their heart’s desires and their worldviews are reinforced by their treatment as students. Meanwhile, conservatives must persevere through their college experience with hopes they won’t succumb to the sustained festival of leftist indoctrination they’re forced to immerse themselves in while they work towards getting their degrees.

Freedom of thought is a nebulous concept because it’s often difficult to recognize attempts to suppress thought. We can easily recognize when the freedom of expression is being suppressed because it’s enforced through rules. However, suppressing freedom of thought is done through absence. Meteorology students aren’t told it’s against the rules to be skeptical of proposed methods to reverse man-made climate change. They’re simply never shown any research that runs contrary to the “settled science” that embraces Al Gore’s politics over actual scientific debate. Students are told that socialism can be effective if the greed of the elite can be eliminated, yet every failed attempt to institute socialism is categorized as a false attempt. This is why students leave college thinking that socialism has never been tried. Legitimate contradictions to Darwinian evolution are never discussed. Once again, it’s “settled science.” If ever a student brings up evidence that points to intelligent design, they’re either told that given enough time, nature can accomplish anything, or they’re fed the multiverse theory. Either way, the challenging evidence is dismissed as settled, debunked, and let’s get back to looking at chimp DNA.

The same process is applied to conservative speakers. Rather than allow the discussion, university administrators have grown so accustomed to controlling every aspect of their indoctrination centers that they’re preference is to prevent these thoughts from making an appearance at their schools. They are ill-prepared to win the debate, so they suppress the debate before it can occur. Even those that allow conservative speakers prepare their students for the unapproved thoughts they’re about to be exposed to.

When universities hamper or block conservative speakers, they’re not attacking freedom of speech. Their suppressing freedom of thought. Indoctrination is standard operating procedure at most universities today. The greatest threat to this status quo isn’t conservative speakers who might say something offensive. It’s that their students might hear something that actually makes them think.

I’m JD Rucker. Thank you for listening.


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