Campus censorship has become a special avocation among the progressive left.
Fifty years ago, that statement might have implied that liberal students were the ones fighting censorship, that they were the ones speaking out against the censoriousness of their conservative classmates and institutional brass.
Today, it means the opposite. If it’s politically charged or can hurt your feelings — or even if it can do neither of these things but can nevertheless serve as a pretense for cultural attacks — campus progressives are sure to police it.
The Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF) recently reviewed available data tallying more than a decade’s worth of student blowback against guest speakers whose views they haven’t liked. The data, compiled by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), tracks the number of organized attempts to have some controversial speaker or other disinvited from their scheduled engagements on college campuses nationwide.
To absolutely no one’s surprise, the left curb-stomps the right when it comes to censoring — or, rather, trying really hard — to censor speakers. For the period spanning from 2000 to 2014, progressive-left protests erupted 160 times, successfully getting a guest speaker banned from appearing on a campus in 49 of those instances.
By contrast, conservatives fought to have a speaker disinvited only 96 times. In an interesting piece of data — one that perhaps suggests the (relative) strength of the merits of their cases — conservatives were more successful than progressives at actually banishing guest speakers, racking up a total of 56 disinvitations over the 15-year data collection period.
While ideology plays a significant role in explaining why the left more frequently calls for the censoring of ideas, the phenomenon of students protesting against free speech indicates a bigger issue, FIRE’s Ari Cohn explained.
“It’s not necessarily a matter of left versus right, or a matter of people who go to private religious schools versus public schools,” he told DCNF. “The fact is we are bringing up our younger generation to want to be protected from ideas.”
If you re-read that quote a time or two, it begins to sound as though Cohn, despite trying not to, really is describing “a matter of left versus right.” After all, which side of the ideological spectrum is dedicated to protecting young adults from ideas?
Hint: In 2015, it isn’t the right.
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