Friday, October 24, 2003

Thoughtcrime at the Big U.

In a manner reminiscent of Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe rather than that of institutions ostensibly dedicated to the concept free thought, political activists on campuses across the United States are increasingly resorting to tactics that resemble brown-shirted thugs rather than students in pursuit of free and open inquiry. Apparently, stealing newspapers with whom you do not agree with and destroying the copies is all the rage among the multiculti set. I find it interesting, to say the very least, that people who demand (and I put special emphasis on demand) that tolerance be practiced, seem to show so little of it.

The following paragraphs are from an article written by Sara Russo about one such incident on Brown University's campus:

"An organized coalition of fifteen ethnic and political student groups at Brown University stole 4,000 copies of the Brown Daily Herald. The theft was retribution for the paper's decision to print David Horowitz's anti-reparations ad three days earlier and its subsequent refusal to submit to outraged students' demands that payment for the ad be turned over to the campus' Third World Center for minority students and that the paper give protestors a full page to print a rebuttal...

The coalition of student groups that stole the papers issued a press release the day after the theft stating that they will perpetuate their campaign of action against the Herald until the paper meets their conditions. The coalition also added two new demands to their previous list: that the Daily Herald excise the word "Brown" from its title and that it cease dispensing copies on campus."

My favorite part comes when a flier issued by this "coalition" states:

"'The coalition has never opposed free speech,' the flier added."

I suppose it all depends on whose free speech that is being exercised. It apparently does not apply to the editorial staff of the Brown Daily Herald as far as the self-styled coalition is concerned. It is rare indeed to find such a splendid example of doublethink. It is all the more disturbing because it occurred at what is considered to be one of our finest universities.

At Roger Williams University censorship is alive and thriving. But this time, it is the administration that is getting in on the act. In a memo ominously entitled "Free Expression, Civility and Mutual Respect," written in reaction to an editorial in The Hawk's Right Eye, a conservative student newspaper.
The paper criticized the school's decision to force incoming freshmen to attend a "diversity" talk delivered by Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard. It also criticized the talk itself, which advocated for hate crime legislation and which accused organized religion of being a bastion of intolerance.

In what has to be a masterpiece in Orwellian duplicity, Roy J. Nirschel, the president of Roger Williams, wrote:

"While we affirm the right of campus organizations to hold different points of view and to disagree, the university will not condone publications that create a hostile environment for our students and community.

Roger Williams continues to believe in respect for diversity of opinion and a civil exchange of views as well as respect for individuals regardless of their beliefs, backgrounds, or orientation. As an institution whose namesake preached, for his time, inclusiveness and respect for human dignity, we are a university too busy for hate."

Well, while the university was too busy to hate, they also must have been too busy to understand the First Amendment and subsequently shut the paper down.

Having worked in journalism a good portion of my adult life, I have been associated at various times with views that run contrary to my own. Advertisements and editorials that I have found unappealing, even repugnant have found their way into print alongside of my work. Still, I have never once advocated stealing, burning or otherwise suppressing those views. That is, after all, the very essence of a "free" press – to protect the rights of others, no matter how much you may disagree with it.


Post a Comment

<< Home