March 28, 2016

Emory University: Thou Shalt Not Utter the Name of Trump

“I think it was an act of violence,” said one student.

Last week, the students at Emory University, located in Atlanta, were in an uproar after someone traipsed around campus in the middle of the night, scrawling “Trump 2016” in chalk all over the sidewalks. For some students, the guerrilla campaigning was deeply offensive. “I think it was an act of violence,” said one. “It was deliberate intimidation,” said another. A group of them gathered to protest to the administration. But worst of all, the administration agreed with the students, saying that they would investigate the incident, either by disciplining the student who wrote the message or tracking down the person who came on to campus for trespassing. Contrary to some reports, the school did not offer emergency counseling, nor did the students cry that their “safe space” was violated.

It should be noted that Emory is a private university; it can set whatever speech codes it likes. But since the whole point of higher education is the free flow of ideas — or that’s what it used to be — the school has a pretty good incentive to honor the freedom of speech and use this incident as a teachable moment regarding unpopular ideas. But as Robert Tracinski wrote, the administration has no such aspiration. “It’s official: the campus is now a one-party surveillance state. If you support the wrong political candidate, the security apparatus of the university will be harnessed to unmask you and prosecute you for hooliganism. University totalitarianism has arrived.” Donald Trump, as GOP frontrunner, has a decent chance at becoming the leader of this country. That reason alone should be why the ideas he espouses should be understood, scrutinized and debated, not simply shut out.

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