Ann Coulter Speaking at UC Berkeley

It is with shame that I see the University of California, Berkeley attempt to prevent conservative commentator Ann Coulter from speaking on campus. And it is with deeper shame that I see protesters clogging the streets in an attempt to silence her.

I know little or nothing about her, yet I am not wrong to be offended by these protesters and the university administration. They are protesting her RIGHT to speak at a university campus. Period.

If there is any place in which the free exchange of ideas is an ideal which should be vigorously defended, it is the universities of the world.

There have been many repressive governments, perhaps the majority of governments which have ever existed. Those governments have adopted many ideologies to defend their oppressive regimes, nationalism (the superiority of the nation), fascism and slavery (the superiority of a people group), communism (the superiority of the people), theocracy (the superiority of the state religion),  dynasty (the superiority of the ruling family or families), or some other ideology.

The manifestation of these ideologies is such that the extremists of most parties in the US and internationally could have felt at home in at least one of these governments. Thus there is a wide range governments whose dictatorial policies range on a spectrum with present day dictators in communistic countries such as Cuba, theocrats such as those in ISIS, Afghanistan under the Taliban, or Iran, as well fascists such as Putin in Russia or Saudi Arabia.

The policies of these different governments generally are as varied as their ideologies.

Yet, one thing is always a constant in repressive regimes, the silencing of dissenting voices. This is the first and most important attack from any repressive regime.

Does the actions of a few protesters in a single college campus really matter?

Yes. Emphatically yes.

There are a few places in which public debate over ideas is even possible. University campuses is one the most important places for such debates to happen.

Protesters will argue that they have the right not to be offended. The right not to have their friends offended.

And they are wrong. This is not a right. Not only is it not a right, it is not even an expectation. Students and faculty who go a university with the hope of avoiding being offended are missing the point.

Higher education, is supposed to raise deep and challenging questions. These question may offend our sensibilities. They may make us question our assumptions. They make us reevaluate what we consider fundamental truths.

This is the central goal of high education!

How are we to weigh our beliefs against competing arguments if we never expose ourselves to those arguments?

To this end, it is essential that conservatives speak to liberal student bodies even as it is essential that liberals speak to conservative student bodies.

Freedom of speech is not the freedom to speak when people agree with you. It is the right to speak especially when people disagree with you.


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