President Donald Trump’s marathon speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference included some red meat for campus free speech crusaders. He proposed an executive order that would deny research funding to institutions that do not protect free speech.
In an op-ed for the New York Post, Karol Markowicz furthers Trump’s point by arguing that taxpayers should no longer help fund schools that don’t foster a free exchange of ideas on campus.
“Conservatives rightly cheered,” Trump’s proposal she writes, “but there’s more to be done to preserve and advance right-of-center views on the quad.”
She then blasts left-wing media that have denied that there’s a free speech problem at all.
“They don’t get it,” she writes. “Colleges are educating a generation of young adults who can’t hear opposing viewpoints. That this is dangerous to freedom of speech should be obvious.”
She points to the example of a professor who blasted Trump’s proposal as “thought-police territory,” and who authored a book arguing that there is no free speech crisis on campus:
Again, this is plainly untrue — as any conservative or libertarian speaker who has ever been invited to speak on a university campus knows. Nowadays, it’s rare when such invitations aren’t met with calls for censorship, physical intimidation and violence and eventual dis-invitations.
Civility is hard to come by when no outside viewpoints are allowed, and the best-endowed universities could even withstand it if Trump made good on his threat. That’s why other initiatives are needed.
For Markowicz, Trump’s executive order is a good start, but it is not enough. She cites groups like the Heterodox Academy, which encourages viewpoint diversity, and not just from a conservative point of view.
She also calls on campuses to be forceful in protecting the right to speech, mentioning a recent example at Portland State University where a protester was able to shut down a speaker’s appearance by ringing a bell loudly and campus police stood by and did not interfere.
“The schools that stand by while speech gets shut down on their campuses — or, worse, engage in direct censorship — shouldn’t receive our tax dollars to help them do that,” she argues.
“A free exchange of ideas should be the goal, and here’s hoping groups like Heterodox Academy can achieve it,” Markowicz concludes. “But meanwhile, colleges at a minimum should be forced to protect the freedom of people to simply speak.”
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