University of Chicago: A Brave Lone Wolf For Free Speech

Many universities are caving to fragile students’ demands for emotional protection from offensive speech. The University of Chicago isn’t one of them.

In a welcome letter to the incoming Class of 2020, Dean of Students John Ellison gives students the truth: there will be no quarter from controversial ideas on campus. U of C[hicago] has made an ironclad commitment to the First Amendment, and will not abide safe spaces, trigger warnings, and other kinds of limitations on what is considered acceptable discourse:

“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

Here’s the thing about trigger warnings and safe spaces on college campuses. They’re always and only for people who disagree with criticism of the established, leftist view. The established views, especially on most college campuses, are support for politicians like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and support for policies like higher taxes, nationalization of health care, free college tuition, environmentalist regulations, government regulation of election campaigns, government control of the Internet, appeasement of Islam and terrorists, open immigration borders, and so forth.

When there’s any right-of-center position advocated, or any right-of-center speaker coming to campuses, the safe spaces are created for those who disagree. The unspoken (and unchallenged) premise is that people disturbed, angered or otherwise upset by the viewpoints of say, George W. Bush’s secretary of state or Donald Trump, cannot be expected to manage or handle their emotions about it, and should not have to do so.

Are the same special arrangements made for people when a left-of-center speaker, or even Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton themselves make an appearance? Of course not. People who dislike these individuals are just as upset and angry over their presence and commentary as are people on the other side. Yet they don’t seek safe spaces, they don’t (to my knowledge) express concern about “trigger warnings,” and – you can be sure – would never be extended such accommodations even if they wanted them.

Doesn’t this tell you something? In fact, doesn’t this tell you everything you need to know about the psychological and intellectual state of people who hold views on the left side of things, particularly in academia?

You can be sure that the real issue here is not psychological. It has nothing to do with “trauma” or stress. It has everything to do with dissension. Because that’s what leftists and progressives routinely do: Intimidate, scream, yell and cry against dissension. “Safe spaces” are an embarrassingly absurd way of translating these childish emotions into college policy. How great that the University of Chicago has come out against them.

The University of Chicago statement names the issue squarely when it says students have no rational basis to “retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.” If college students can’t be expected to mentally function when someone disagrees with them, then what on earth are they doing in college in the first place?

I’m not aware of anyone on the conservative/libertarian/non-left side proposing crimes against “hate speech.” They don’t wish to intimidate or outlaw private opinion. While it’s not necessarily true that absolutely everyone on the left wishes to do so, their leaders certainly do, if only in a subtle and gradual way so people will barely notice. As just two examples, note that Obama’s Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, whom Hillary Clinton has promised to retain, wishes to launch criminal or civil attacks against people who criticize Islam or who question the scientific validity of global warming.

As we know with mental illness and brain disease such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, the collapse of an individual’s soul (rationally defined) begins with the decline of the mind. On a society level, the collapse of society begins with the insanity of the intellectuals, who mostly reside in academia. Bravo to the University of Chicago. Not only are they standing up to established, leftist intimidators who are nothing more than oversized crybabies. They also refuse to give in to the more deeply toxic idea that dissenting opinion cannot be tolerated in, of all places, an institution of higher learning.

Sadly, the University of Chicago does not represent the dominant trend, at least not yet. But sometimes it only takes one lone wolf—who’s right—to walk headlong into the torrent of injustice and irrationality coming from the opposite direction.

Anyone who still values freedom of speech and, more than that, the methodology of reason in determining the truth or falsehood of ideas should cheer this brave and unexpected development.

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