UC-Berkeley. Middlebury College. Evergreen State College. Those are just a few college campuses where the right to free speech has been under attack this year.
America’s colleges have become the flash point in the battle over free speech. For free speech advocates, recent events in academia don’t bring much hope. University leaders continue to cave on the issue, Brendan Pringle writes at Red Alert Politics:
Campus free speech showdowns have recently received an overwhelming amount of media exposure. This is not because First Amendment conflicts have not occurred in other venues, but rather because the media understands that the college campus is the ultimate battleground of ideas, and free speech is the foundation of any ideological battle.
The Free Speech Movement first took root on campuses like UC Berkeley in the 1960s, driven by young people who were battling their campus administrators. Decades later, free speech on campus is yet again threatened by campus administrators who are passively squelching the free speech rights of conservatives. It’s easy to blame the so-called “antifa” students and other protestors who have forced the cancellation of conservative speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter, but the buck has to stop somewhere. College presidents have the resources to protect free speech — when they want to protect it.
The problem is they don’t.
In his piece, Pringle writes baby boomers have neglected the free speech movement they created. But even so, that doesn’t mean the movement has to die. Instead, Pringle argues it’s up to millennials to step up and advocate for free speech. Specifically, he points to conservative millennials:
Conservative students are constantly dealing with protestors who truly believe they have the right to close down speaking events if they find the speaker’s ideas offensive, and university officials who willingly comply. These student leaders are outnumbered and sometimes outmaneuvered, but their message is often magnified by the media attention they receive when they face opposition. Their fight serves to remind all Americans of the liberal intolerance on college campuses, but also of the fragility of free speech in places that lack any sort of real tolerance. If free speech dies on college campuses, where will it die next? It has already died in Hollywood, and is practically on life support in other places.
America is counting on millennials to fight for this basic right and carry the torch that older generations have extinguished.
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