Thursday, October 05, 2006

Liberalism and the end of Free Speech

At Columbia University yesterday Jim Gilchrist, the creator of the Minutemen volunteer border patrol group, was beginning a speech when it was disrupted by a group of protesters.

Having wreaked havoc onstage, the students unrolled a banner that read, in both Arabic and English, "No one is ever illegal." As security guards closed the curtains and began escorting people from the auditorium, the students jumped from the stage, pumping their fists, chanting victoriously, "Si se pudo, si se pudo," Spanish for "Yes we could!"

This speech disruption is on par with a string of liberal campus demonstrations that have the intent of silencing certain campus visitors - mainly conservative ones. Right in line with trying to hit Ann Coulter and Bill Kristol with pies while on stage, liberal student activists across the country have decided that the freedom of speech is relative.

The student protesters "rush to vindicate themselves with monikers like ‘liberal' and ‘open-minded,' but their actions, their attempt to condemn the Minutemen without even hearing what they have to say, speak otherwise," the president of the Columbia College Republicans, Chris Kulawik, said. On campus, the Republicans' flyers advertising the event were defaced and torn down.

Indeed, there is great irony in a political persuasion that claims freedom of thought and expression whose members then attempt to deny that very expression to those who have differing opinions.

However, let's reach to the heart of this phenomenon. Why do liberal students attempt to silence conservatives? These liberal academics consider the conservative viewpoint pointless to promote due to its inherent wrongness. Indeed, however much liberals argue for moral relativism and a post-modern rejection of absolute truth, these same liberals are often quick to classify modes of political thought as "right" and "wrong," as "informed" or "ignorant."

This incident at Columbia is no exception to this rule. Liberal students deem it completely worthy of disrupting free speech if that speech is wrong and ignorant. I doubt the Columbia administration will do much about the situation, due to their feelings on the matter most likely mirroring those of the disruptive students.

Does liberalism mean the end of free speech? Unlikely; however, the increasing liberal slant of the nation's colleges and universities may signal a need for significant reform, both in administration's handling of student disruptions and the education of students in the arena of "free speech."

Update: My point exactly:

Statement released by "those who occupied the stage:"

We celebrate free speech: for that reason we allowed the Minutemen to speak, and for that same reason we peacefully occupied the stage and spoke ourselves. Our peaceful protest was violently attacked by members of the College Republicans and their supporters, who are the very same people who invited the Minutemen to our campus in the first place. The Minutemen are not a legitimate voice in the debate on immigration. They are a racist, armed militia who have declared open hunting season on immigrants, causing countless hate crimes and over 3000 deaths on the border. Why should exploitative corporations have free passes between nations, but individual people not? No human being is illegal.

I guess I was right. First, as you can see, there was a quick version of revisionist history, when the "group" claims they let the Minutemen speak, and then claimed that their "peaceful" protest was attacked by the College Republicans. Was it also peaceful for them to yell at the speakers "You don't know shit about God!" and "Black white supremacist!"

Then they spew their "truth." "The Minutemen are not a legitimate voice." Free speech to all, except towards those with which we disagree.

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