After reading these posts, it is hard not to disagree. There are many people in academic institutions who still hold to the view, expressed by Voltaire, that "I disagree strongly with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Unfortunately, what was once a consensus view in academe in favor of Voltaire's statement has been diminished over time. On many campuses this is now a minority view, even though there are members of those college communities who pay lip service to the idea. There is now a sizeable number of administrators, professors, and students who do not support that view--or, at least, they support a selective application of the view to those groups with whom they agree.
Should Ann Coulter be able to speak on campus? What about Louis Farrakhan? Most of us will find one or both of these figures offensive, yet a university devoted to free speech should be equally willing to have these two figures speak on its campus. Recently there were over 2000 faculty members and students at Fordham who signed a petition demanding that Ann Coulter not be permitted to speak there. Under pressure the Republican student organization withdrew its invitation, and Coulter did not speak. What does this say about free speech at Fordham?
This extends to other areas. What about Chick-Fil-A's right to contract with a university to serve food in its student union? There are quite a few universities in which there has been a strong protest against Chick-Fil-A having a presence on their campuses. I have heard of no such organized protests here, but I know for a fact there are faculty members at LSU who would like to boot Chick-Fil-A off of campus over the position of its CEO in support of the traditional family. Regardless of what one thinks about same-sex marriage, it is a violation of free speech principles to support an effort to boot off of campus a business because of its position on a given issue.
Support for free speech is hard. It is difficult to hear people say things that you find offensive, and it is easy to respond emotionally by saying that the person saying what you find offensive should not be permitted to speak. But personally, I'm with Voltaire on this one.
This post was edited on 11/17 at 11:43 am