Freedom of Speech?
One need look no further than the melee at Columbia University early last month when a leader of the Minutemen Militia was silenced by more than verbal barbs, but physical obstruction. I witnessed similar intolerance for viewpoints that conflicted with mainstream liberalism throughout my academic career.
1. David Horowitz interrupted throughout a 2002 speech at the University of Illinois at Chicago by members of the student Socialist Party.
2. Ralph Reed, then head of the Christian Coalition, shouted down by students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
3. A similar performance with protesters literally bused in to obstruct a speech by Ward Connerly, former California Regent, and an African-American who opposes affirmative action.
College should be a time when our worldview is consistenty challenged by perspectivies different from our own. In my experience, this only serves to strengthen our own convictions and to better articulate our values. Moreover, occasionally we encounter information that forces us to re-examine our worldviews and adopt alternative viewpoints. Such reflection is a component of academic growth. Institutions and student bodies who fail to embark in this process short-change themselves and our society. Intolerance from all directions can only be defeated with more speech, not less.