Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Our Nation's Colleges & Universities: Bastions of Speech & Thought Fascism

If there is one area where the freedom-hating illiberal left has enjoyed immense success in setting this nation on its current path to becoming a Marxist hell-hole, it is in their outright take-over of our nation's institutions of higher learning, a process which began over four decades ago. Conversely, one of the most colossal failures on the part of those of us who cherish the hard-won and unique freedoms and liberties we currently enjoy as a nation, was to stand idly by and allow this take-over to occur in the first place.

Sadly, almost commensurate with the left's subversion of our nations colleges, along came "political correctness." Anyone on campus who uttered any thought or idea that violated this, at the time, largely unwritten code, faced repercussions-some of which could be rather serious.

This came as a rude awakening for many American students who had assumed that liberals actually supported the concept of freedom of expression. After all, was it not supposedly "tolerant" liberals who were marching on campuses all across America in the 60s and 70s, loudly demanding that their free speech rights be observed?

I myself ran afoul of un-published PC speech restrictions while in college nearly two decades ago. Of course, unlike some of the students in my midst, I promptly and rather aggressively stood up for myself and asserted my rights as an American, and thus was able to put a swift end to the proceedings.

Today, many of our nation's universities are actually publishing lists of words and phrases that the powers-that-be have determined are out of bounds and can therefore not be used anywhere on campus. Often, the excuse given by the robed and tasseled gaggle who produce these codes insist that they are necessary to ensure that all of the student body feel "included" and are able to go about their daily activities and avoid being offended in some way or other. How nice.

Are these people not concerned that in just about all cases, the imposition of speech codes in a public university setting has been ruled to be a clear violation of the constitutional rights of the students and is therefore illegal? Apparently not.

Where, by the way, does the Constitution of the United States of America say that we citizens have a "right" to not be offended?

Another excuse one will often hear put forth by the robed mob is that speech codes are necessary in order to prevent "hate speech." Problem is, who, exactly, gets to define what constitutes hate speech? In my experience, this term has come to define anything said by a non-liberal that a liberal does not agree with, much like the term "racist" has come to define anything said by a white person that a person of color disagrees with.

One long-held concern I have had about speech codes, aside from the fact that they are a blatant affront to our God-given, constitutionally enforced right to express ourselves as we see fit is, when you start trying to control what people say, how far are you from ultimately controlling what people think?

It would be easy to blame the government, the elementary and secondary government schools these kids attended, the colleges and universities themselves, in addition to the freedom-hating left. After all, each of these entities share at least part of the blame for the sorry state our post-secondary educational system now finds itself in-particularly in the area of freedom of expression, if not freedom in general.

I lay the bulk of the blame squarely at the feet of the parents who send their offspring to these deeply flawed institutions. I do so not because they have failed to withhold the huge tuition payments they make to these schools, or that they do not send mass letters of protest to the administrators and faculty members for their shameless indoctrination of our nations young people.

I blame them for raising gullible, non-thinking, non-critical, easily-led little sheep.

Somewhere in these student's households, in the time between their gleaming parents bringing their little bundles of joy home from the hospital for the first time, and the day they packed up the SUV and drove their now teenage offspring off to the college or university of their choice, something went hideously awry.

I suspect that in most cases, the parents perched in the front of the SUV now making its way merrily along probably are congratulating themselves in the belief that they did a fairly good job in preparing their progeny for life in the real world. In many cases, the parent's are probably correct. In most cases, however, I think they have blown it-and quite badly at that.

The problem we have today is that so many young people have been so wussified by their parent's, as well as by society at large, that they most often will cower in the face of any restrictions placed on their freedoms, and just quietly go about their business. This, I believe, is the main reason the enemies of freedom have been so successful at stifling speech with which they disagree-speech that often reflects ideas and convictions that the institutional intelligentsia, for whatever reason, cannot stomach. How sad.

Fortunately for freedom of expression, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or F.I.R.E., was formed to help fight the speech Nazis that have infested so many of this nation's colleges and universities. You can read their mission statement here.

As I have been victimized by the campus speech fascists myself, I took a personal interest in this organization shortly after it was founded, and have regularly followed its progress ever since. They have a rather impressive record in combating speech restrictions that have been cropping up on campuses all over this nation.

Each year, F.I.R.E. releases a report detailing the current state of freedom of expression on many of our nations colleges and universities. You can read their 2009 report, which was just released, here.

Sad to say, even though there has been some limited progress made in the war for intellectual freedom in the very places you would not expect there to be a need for one, our nations institutions of higher learning, there is still much left to be done to rid this country of this freedom-sapping cancer.

What I find truly distressing is that, in the United States of America, an organization such as F.I.R.E. is even necessary.

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When liberty is taken away by force it can be restored by force. When it is relinquished voluntarily by default it can never be recovered. -Dorothy Thompson