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  • Writer's pictureCorey Lee Wilson

The ‘Heckler’s Veto’ on America’s University and High School Campuses

There is a George Orwell statue at the headquarters of the BBC and the Orwell quote on the wall reads: “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

The Economist reports, “People as different as Condoleezza Rice, a former secretary of state, and Bill Maher, a satirist, have been dissuaded from giving speeches on campuses, sometimes on grounds of safety….Fifty years ago, student radicals agitated for academic freedom and the right to engage in political activities on campus. Now some of their successors are campaigning for censorship and increased policing by universities of student activities. The supporters of these ideas on campus are usually described as radicals. They are, in fact, the opposite.”

Our society, it seems, has failed to transmit our values, in particular free speech, to the next generation. According to a new survey by the Pew Research Center, 40 per cent of Millennials support government censorship of speech offensive to minority groups. The poll found that Millennials were the most likely of any age group to agree that government should have the authority to stop people from saying things that offend minorities.

There can be little doubt that our society is not doing a particularly good job in transmitting our history and values to the next generation. A recent survey of 1,100 colleges and universities found that only 18 percent require American history or government, where the foundations of our society, such as the First Amendment, can be explained.

The survey, by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), found that at the universities where free speech is now under attack, such as the University Missouri, Amherst, and Yale, very little is being done to transmit our history and values.

Those in Charge Tend to Recoil From the Defense of Free Speech

With few defenders in today’s academic world, the future of academic freedom looks increasingly bleak. Hopefully, alumni will rally to restore the universities they once knew, a genuine marketplace of ideas where “political correctness,” “safe zones” and “microaggression,” were terms yet to be coined. But if they and others in positions of influence prove unwilling or unable to address this growing problem, “academic freedom” will begin to reflect with what The SAPIENT Being has pointed out and working to prevent.

The seriousness of freedom of speech suppression was recently investigated in 2017 by the House of Representatives Joint Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Healthcare, Benefits and Administrative Rules and the Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Affairs of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform titled Challenges to Freedom of Speech on College Campuses.

The issues with trigger warnings, safe spaces, safe zones, shout-downs, microaggressions, bias response teams, and riots on campuses were discussed and debated regarding their impact of campus freedom of speech suppression. As to what can be done about these issues on campus? Please look for the next article titled: "Restoring Free Speech on Campus" for some answers.

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