By Daniel Mael, Originally published by the Gatestone Institute
On college campuses, teachers, students and sometimes even administrators seem to have become ever more eager to block any idea with which they disagree.
Often it appears as if their first impulse is to demonize the individual or organization presenting the offending idea, rather than to address the substance of the argument and open a discussion in the “free marketplace of ideas.”
On the campus of Lake Superior State University, wall postings “deemed offensive, sexist, vulgar, discriminatory or suggestive will not be approved.” The campus code of conduct states that if students fail to comply, they may be disciplined — a rule that was named “Speech Code of the Month” for May by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
Increasingly, individuals and groups, perhaps unknowingly betraying the spirit of classic liberalism, seek to shame or ridicule dissenting opinion into silence. Both in politics and on college campuses, it seems as if aggressive shaming has replaced the art of persuasion as the favored means of argumentation. Substantive, non-politically correct discussion is now at a premium.
In her recently published book The Silencing, life-long liberal and Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers documents the escalating efforts of people claiming to be liberal to silence dissent on issues they regard as contentious. The tactic follows what Powers calls the “authoritarian impulse to silence.”
On issues ranging from campus “speech codes” to feminism, these self-described liberals are unwilling to entertain the notion that a well-intentioned individual from the other side of the aisle might have a different remedy for the problems of the day.