Killing Freedom

Why is it that people presume that rescinding freedoms and liberties in the name of niceness is somehow better or different than those same freedoms and liberties being rescinded by a totalitarian regime?

This seems to be the issue for the public universities in our state, who once again are attempting to basically eliminate free speech on campus as an effort to stamp out not-niceness, which goes by the term intolerance these days.  What is frightening is that such an effort comes from and is aimed towards institutions of higher learning, the very places where exposure to multiple ideas and thoughts was once encouraged.  We were told over the past few decades that freedom of speech on campus was necessary because it exposed people to alternate viewpoints on issues like gender and sexuality and politics and economics.  Now the same people who allegedly benefited from that exposure are now seeking to eliminate it for those who come after them.

I read another article last week where students were interviewed on the topic.  It was both frightening and depressing – though hardly surprising – how they responded.  They responded like robots programmed with faulty logic.  We believe that freedom of speech is important and vital.  Unless someone is saying something we don’t like.  Nobody should say something we don’t like to hear.  It’s frightening that they can’t see that these goals are mutually exclusive.  Either speech is free, which means that, with very few if any limitations, people can say what they want, or it isn’t free.  If the issue is being nice, then who gets to decide what is nice?

Universities, apparently.  They can determine that it’s not nice to challenge emerging views on homosexuality.  This is an extension of the anti-bullying rhetoric that was used so prominently for a few years.  Bullying was no longer to be permitted, and if you didn’t agree then you would be bullied into obedience.

Life is full of perplexities and things we don’t understand, don’t like, and don’t agree with.  The solution to this is not to try and pretend this isn’t the case through artificial, selective suppression of certain ideas and expressions.  The solution is to actually educate people to analyze these things and make determinations.  In other words, the role of the university is to provide people with a set of tools by which they can make decisions about the world they live in.  The role of the university is NOT to dictate what decisions people must make.

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