June 28, 2019

A Law to Protect Campus Speech?

We wouldn’t have thought it necessary in America, but South Dakota may lead the way.

Who’d have thought that a country founded upon free speech would have to create a law in order to protect such speech on its college campuses? Outside of the town square, the academy has long been the one place where all ideas are batted around in a broader search for truth and knowledge.

So maybe that’s why the Left has a problem with it.

You see, the progressive-socialists who’ve infected academia over the past 50 years — and now dominate some fields by tenfold or more — don’t want young minds to know the truth.

What they do want is to indoctrinate students as left-wing activists eager to do violence to America’s institutions, rather than to produce knowledgeable citizens prepared to uphold and defend Western values.

What’s more ironic is that leftists are the very people who, as college students in the 1960s, formed sit-ins and other protests to speak out against the “system” and who championed themselves as defenders of free speech.

Today, they’re the tyrants who force-feed your 18-year-old a diet of Marxism repackaged as “democracy.” Indeed, the Left has now become the very system they fought against in the ‘60s.

And this new system ensures that conservative guest speakers, students, and faculty are shouted down or otherwise silenced. Impressionable students are thus a captive audience for leftist ideology, whether in science, history, literature, or elsewhere. Outside of the lecture hall, campus activities boards and administrators fully support and encourage student organizations to serve as conduits for “LGBTQ” issues, “social justice,” and the like.

There’s no way to escape it. Conservative students are routinely belittled if they dare challenge their professor’s dogma, and often publicly shamed or threatened if they dare to invite someone to campus to speak favorably about capitalism, Western civilization, or conservative ideas.

But there’s a bit of hope.

South Dakota is challenging this assault on free speech. Last year, legislators enacted S.D. 1087, described as an “act to promote free speech and intellectual diversity at certain institutions of higher education.” Additionally, the act requires an annual report to the state legislature and ensures that outdoor spaces on campuses are forums for free speech. The law takes effect on July 1, but campus leftists are fighting it tooth and nail to make sure conservatives don’t have a voice.

An important part of the effort to quash right-leaning voices is the widespread practice of hiring “diversity officers.” With an average salary of $175,000, these bureaucrats police the college campus by promoting leftist programs and policies, integrating social justice into the institutional framework, and employing an army of uninformed Millennials to seek out any ideas not in line with their own. There’s hardly an institution of higher learning today that doesn’t have an office of diversity. But these campus cops care little for diversity of opinion or thought, and they certainly don’t want diversity in speech.

Imagine the outcry if colleges and universities across the country started hiring “freedom officers” who pushed a conservative ideology and actively prevented liberal students and faculty from speaking or holding events on campus.

In South Dakota, lawmakers justified their free-speech act by explaining that “while beneficial programs for Native American students, and students of other diverse cultures should be preserved, the build-up of diversity offices which are used to promote social justice causes associated with the political left such as safe zone training, the biannual drag show, and social justice training, to name just a few, should be dismantled.”

It’s about time that someone fights back against this assault on our freedom. But could the Mount Rushmore state’s bold stroke spread to other states?

Frederick M. Hess writes at National Review, “South Dakota’s experience is a microcosm of what’s unfolding across American higher education, and the resolution and implementation of S.D. 1087 may have national implications. After all, across the land, liberal faculty members outnumber their conservative counterparts five to one, and the disparity is starker still when it comes to the social sciences and humanities. Such a lack of intellectual diversity affects who gets hired at colleges and universities, who enjoys the platform provided by prestigious institutions, what gets researched, and what gets taught.”

If we’re going to have diversity officers on campus, they ought to be standing up for the free-speech rights of everyone. Now, thanks to South Dakota’s legislature, the tide may be turning.

That’s good news for all who believe in free speech, and bad news for those who’ve used our colleges and universities as a training ground for the next generation of socialist warriors.

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