A pernicious notion has entered our universities that reflects a deep and very strange misunderstanding of free speech. The notion is that if you don’t approve of what someone is saying, you can stop them from saying it, and that doing so is actually an exercise of free speech.
Thus, if you don’t like a speaker, you can go to the talk and shout him down, and you’re simply exercising your free speech. Or if you don’t like a display, you vandalize it, and that vandalism is an act of free speech.
It should be self-evident that this is wrong. Stopping other people’s expression is not free speech, it’s the opposite of free speech. But people seem profoundly confused by this, and it’s not just our students, but the administrations:
On January 22, 2013, the DePaul chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), having attained the required permits, erected a pro-life display. . . That afternoon, numerous DePaul students vandalized the display. . .
With the investigation completed, DePaul Assistant Dean of Students Domonic Rollins provided Del Campo with a report from the Department of Public Safety, containing the names of 13 DePaul students who had admitted to vandalizing YAF’s display. On February 5, the national YAF organization posted this document on its website. . .
DePaul found Del Campo responsible for the charge of “Disorderly, Violent, Intimidating or Dangerous Behavior,” as well as a charge related to “Judicial Process Compliance.” Del Campo has been placed on disciplinary probation and is prohibited from all contact with the students named in the public safety report. DePaul has also required that Del Campo complete an “Educational Project” in the form of a reflection letter.
As yet, the vandals have apparently not been punished, but the university is punishing the victim for publicly naming them. This is insanity.
I think the slogan Censorship is Peace would go very well with War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength.
(Via Evan Coyne Maloney.)