‘Self-righteous Left’ Hinders Freedom of Speech on College Campuses

Photo Courtesy of Robin_Ottawa (I'm on the phone!), Flickr Creative Commons

The self-righteous left strikes again.

Around the country, colleges are celebrating the re-emergence of warm weather with outdoor activities, sporting events and, as is customary on nearly every campus, a spring concert. George Washington University is no different and on April 2 they planned a concert for their students. Slated for performance was Action Bronson, a Queens rapper, and son of a first-generation Albanian father and a Jewish mother. Prior to rapping, Bronson was a gourmet chef who hosted his own cooking show on Youtube. According to students at GWU, he is a misogyny, homophobia and transphobia-spewing rapper, whose lyrics have no place on a progressive college campus.  

Lyrics aside — because music throughout history has always offended someone — the false progressive identity that new age liberals tend to have has gone beyond simply standing for progressive causes. The exact beliefs they are trying to keep intact, while attending a prestigious, higher education institution, are the same ones they are deriding when banning rappers, comedians and other performance acts from campus due to a perceived lack of respect for one thing or another. While these students claim to stand for progressivism and granting freedom as a human right, they continually overlook the most fundamental tenet of liberalism and democracy: free speech.  

If speech cannot offend, then it is not truly free. On “progressive” campuses such as George Washington and UC Berkeley, students now find it more fulfilling to bar a comedian or performer from playing their campus under the guise of progression and inclusion.

Bill Maher, who has performed stand-up since the early '80s and hosted a show, ironically enough called “Politically Incorrect,” before getting kicked off the air, has garnered immense backlash not only from the conservatives he regularly butts heads with, but with liberals who find his views too demeaning and disrespectful. He was slated to be the keynote speaker at UC Berkeley’s commencement ceremony in the winter of 2014. And, like clockwork, the new age liberals crept out of the woodwork to protest and staunchly oppose Maher’s appearance, as a means to make a point about practically nothing.  

Maher, who is a self-professed liberal, and who personally contributed $1 million to Obama’s campaign, utilizes his right to free speech, which is protected under the Constitution in a variety of ways. His views on Muslims in particular irked students at the college, which led them to call Maher a racist and Islamaphobe.

Maher didn’t even mentioned anything particularly offensive about Muslims, only that the religion and its followers seem to hold a monopoly on suicide bombings and killing people who draw offensive pictures. The same liberals who claim to be acting on their beliefs of freedom and inclusion by banning comedians from campuses are the same ones who sympathized with Muslims by saying that people shouldn’t draw anything that may offend someone; essentially, that it is on everyone else to make sure Muslims don’t misinterpret a satirical drawing and shoot up a publication.  

The most disturbing aspect of this free speech debate is that there is no debate – no discussion, nuance or ambiguity in the new progressive’s argument. Their stance has been secured, and as Chris Rock said, they’ve become “too conservative.” Too conservative in their belief in free speech, and too hard pressed to push their pseudo-intellect and their propensity for including everyone and displeasing no one.  

Not only do they find offense in everything everyone says, but they have to let everyone know that what a comedian says in a free democracy has no place on a college campus. Their beliefs have supplanted free speech and true progressivism and their views on culture and politics have become the baseline against which all speech must now adhere to.  

Caitlin Flanagan, who wrote an article in The Atlantic on the limitations on free speech due to “political correctness” stated, “… that for almost every aspect of your experience … great care has been taken to expose you to only the narrowest range of approved social and political opinions.” And yet our experiences on a college campus should be the antithesis of this. Groupthink and appealing to like-minded interests just as a means not to offend anyone is the opposite of progressivism, and shows a departure from any type of liberal ideology.  

College should expose young adults to the most audacious and provocative ideas of their lives, but the fabric of education and the business aspect of higher education institutions have shown a steady deviation from these types of ideas. Free speech has taken a backseat to the whims of a distinct group of especially sensitive young adults, whose misplaced sense of progression has replaced true, impactful liberalism.