By Bill Korach www.thereportcard.org
Studies by The National Association of Scholars show a strong college faculty and administration bias for leftist ideology and in opposition to conservative thought. In Recent months, this bias has led to violent protests, disinvitation of Republican elected officials and aggressive enforcement of speech codes that limit any speech dislike. Berkeley, Middlebury College and Evergreen State College have rioted and in some cases taken over the campus administrative offices without demur by college administrators.
Conservative legislators are fighting back by advancing free speech legislation. State colleges receive taxpayer funding and may not limit speech based upon political bias. Private colleges are less inhibited by First Amendment matters, but morally ought to promote freedom of expression. Also, many private colleges receive $Billions in federal grant money that should be denied if college behave like Middlebury shutting down speakers they dislike.
Now, state legislatures, most led by Republicans, are advancing bills they say are intended to support free speech. The laws include measures to suspend students who interfere with the free-speech rights of others, remove free-speech zones that limit protests to small areas on campus and cut off money to schools that don’t protect the First Amendment.
“There’s been censorship of free speech on campuses around the country,” said Jesse Kreme, a Republican state representative in Wisconsin who is sponsoring a bill there. “We should have a free marketplace of ideas; people shouldn’t be shouted down for expressing themselves.”
According to Douglas Belkin in the Wall Street Journal,
in the past few months, governors have signed legislation protecting free speech on campus in Colorado, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia. Meanwhile, Republican legislators have proposed bills in Illinois, Wisconsin, Texas, California, North Carolina, Michigan, Louisiana and Georgia.
Republicans control the legislature in three of the four states where governors—two of them Democrats—have so far signed the bills. The GOP controls the legislature in six of the eight states where such legislation has been proposed.
Much of the proposed legislation is based on a model bill published in January by the Goldwater Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank in Phoenix. It prohibits school administrators from bowing to political pressure and rescinding invitations to controversial speakers, mandates that every freshman be taught about the campus’s free-speech policy and require schools to discipline students who twice interfere with the free speech rights of others.
“You want to carry a sign and march on the sidewalk? You can do that right up to the point where you block someone else’s ability to speak,” said Jonathan Butcher, co-author of the Goldwater Institute’s model legislation. “If you want to ask an antagonistic question, great, we want that to happen, but you cannot shout down a speaker and force them to leave the room.”
The left of course, want to continue their monopoly of speech at college:
“I think there is a concerted effort by right wing groups in this country to try and make hay on this issue,” said Matthew Rothschild, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which promotes government transparency.
“If someone yells ‘You lie,’ at a speaker is that enough to get them suspended?” Mr. Rothschild asked. “How about if they laugh derisively?”
She said she didn’t want her high-school aged son, when in college, “to be in an environment where you learn that if you don’t agree with someone not only do you not listen, but you keep other people from listening.”
Republican Rep. Eddie Smith, a co-sponsor of the bill in Tennessee, said “A lot of conservatives feel like they’re being shouted down by liberals and a lot of liberals feel like they’re being shouted down by conservatives.”
In February, the University of California, Berkeley canceled the appearance of conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos after a violent protests broke out. In April, a conservative group on the campus withdrew its speaking invitation to conservative Ann Coulter after university officials canceled the event, citing safety concerns.
In March, demonstrators at Middlebury shouted down libertarian scholar Charles Murray. In April, conservative scholar Heather MacDonald spoke at Claremont McKenna College in California, but demonstrators blocked the entrance to her event, greatly reducing her in-person audience, according to media reports.
Last week Senator John Cornyn (R., Tex.) was disinvited from delivering the commencement address at Texas Southern University in Houston (an historically black institution) after students complained about his support of the Trump administration. Mr. Cornyn put out a statement saying that he respected the decision. The University of Illinois disinvited Nobel Prize winning scientist James Watson after some faculty complained that he has racist views.
It’s long past time to require universities to do what they were founded to do: educate, not indoctrinate.