. . . well, not all speech—just the speech that the editors of the student newspaper The Cavalier Daily don’t like.
But first, remember Emma Camp? On March 7 I mentioned her and her NYT op-ed in the Hili dialogue:
*An article to read: an op-ed in the NYT by Emma Camp, a senior at the University of Virginia: “I came to college eager to debate. I found self-censorship instead.”
I went to college to learn from my professors and peers. I welcomed an environment that champions intellectual diversity and rigorous disagreement. Instead, my college experience has been defined by strict ideological conformity. Students of all political persuasions hold back — in class discussions, in friendly conversations, on social media — from saying what we really think. Even as a liberal who has attended abortion rights protests and written about standing up to racism, I sometimes feel afraid to fully speak my mind.
In the classroom, backlash for unpopular opinions is so commonplace that many students have stopped voicing them, sometimes fearing lower grades if they don’t censor themselves. According to a 2021 survey administered by College Pulse of over 37,000 students at 159 colleges, 80 percent of students self-censor at least some of the time. Forty-eight percent of undergraduate students described themselves as “somewhat uncomfortable” or “very uncomfortable” with expressing their views on a controversial topic during classroom discussions. At U.V.A., 57 percent of those surveyed feel that way.
She got a lot of pushback on this from social media, with some people even saying she was a white supremacist because they thought she was photographed at the statue where the Charlottesville riots started. (In reality, her article had a picture of her in front of the Rotunda, the main building of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where Ms. Camp is a senior.) But that kind of pushback is free speech, even if it’s erroneous speech.
Anyway, any time someone says their speech is being chilled (especially if they’re conservatives), they get piled on by progressive Leftists who deny the existence of cancel culture. But the fact is that Camp called attention to a serious problem afflicting the majority of American college students: they’re afraid to speak their minds for fear of offending people, particularly woke people.
And now Ms. Camp’s own school has struck back at her in a remarkably stupid op-ed in the student paper. I learned about it from Camp’s own tweet:
There is no illiberalism problem at UVA. Yep. Nothing to see here. https://t.co/iwGOnMEEyT
— Emma Camp✒️ (@emmma_camp_) March 22, 2022
And, sure enough, most of the editorial board of the paper, consisting of “the Executive Editor, the Editor-in-Chief, the two Opinion Editors, their Senior Associate and an Opinion Columnist,” wrote the piece below, which is basically a “free speech for me but not for thee” piece. When will they ever learn?
Click on the screenshot to read:
Right off the bat, Ms. Camp gets a brickbat:
Most recently, a University student made national headlines for lamenting the state of free speech at the University. More often than not, this speech was defended by claiming a need for intellectual diversity. In looking at each of these instances, we as an Editorial Board found ourselves questioning what should be protected under the premise of “diversity of thought” and more importantly, what values we choose to accept on Grounds. For us, the answer is simple. Hateful rhetoric is violent — and this is impermissible.
Two things to note here. First, the desire to ban “hateful rhetoric,” which turns out to be right-wing rhetoric (Mike Pence is their prime example). Second, the false equation of “hateful rhetoric” with “violence”, which it’s not. “Violence” has become one of those words whose meaning is deliberately watered down to turn what comes out of one’s mouth into the equivalent of a fist in someone else’s face. Nobody should accept that kind of rhetoric. When you hear it, just tell the speaker that they’re wrong.
So let’s abandon the stupid idea that offensive speech is “violence” and see what The Cavalier Daily considers offensive speech. Their archetypal example is. . . Mike Pence:
A student organization recently announced its plans to host former vice president Mike Pence this April to speak in Old Cabell Hall. For Pence, gay couples signify a “societal collapse,” Black lives do not matter, transgender individuals and immigrants do not deserve protection and the pandemic should not be taken seriously. Nevertheless, the University has accepted Pence’s visit as an “opportunity to hear from, and engage with, leaders and experts from a wide variety of fields and perspectives.” So-called “perspectives” should not be welcomed when they spread rhetoric that directly threatens the presence and lives of our community members. The LGBTQ+ individuals Pence has attacked, the Black lives he refuses to value and the successful stories of immigration he and the former president hope to prevent — these very people are our peers, our neighbors and our community members. We refuse to condone platforming Pence.
Even if everything they say about Pence is true (and I suspect he wouldn’t sign on to all of that), it doesn’t matter. He is not calling for violence; he’s standing for Republican values. As odious as the man is, his values are held by roughly half of the American public. Does that mean that anyone espousing Republican politics should be considered a hatemonger and banned from the campus? Apparently so. There is no room for debate about Black Lives Matter, what “rights” transgender individuals have, or about how do deal with the coronavirus. It’s the editors’ way or the highway. (Of course I’m much more likely to be on their side than on Pence’s side, but that’s not the point.)
But wait! There’s more!
Pence is further tarred by being equated not just to Donald Trump (and remember, Pence finally admitted that the election was fair), but also to the white supremacists who congregated and rioted at Charlottesville in 2017. My emphasis below:
While Pence’s stop at the University may be part of a lecture series, it is undeniable that his presence means something fundamentally different here than on other college campuses. Pence plans to “take a stand for America’s founding.” Given recent history, this should sound warning bells. Four years ago, hundreds of white supremacists flocked to Charlottesville to express their racist and violent beliefs. While they descended upon the Downtown Mall in a violent and deadly rally, we must remember — their first stop that weekend was here. We cannot forget this fact — the first place white supremacists felt comfortable expressing themselves was through a torch-lit march on our Grounds. Let us be clear — we must seriously consider the environment we wish to tolerate. Let us not forget that for four years, Pence served alongside the man who called those same white supremacists “very fine people.” Pence’s presence on Grounds signifies a tolerance of rhetoric that has already harmed our community — in fact, the very building that Pence will speak in was constructed to hide Black citizens so as not to disrupt the landscape of Grounds. Though Pence’s language may not be as overt as the white supremacy expressed during the events of Aug. 11 and 12, we must all be concerned about the message his rhetoric could imply we accept.
So Pence doesn’t have freedom of speech at U. Va. (a state school, which means it has to obey the First Amendment) because of his association with Trump, who praised white supremacists. This is third-hand demonization.
And so, the privileged and condescending editors of the Cavalier Daily conclude that there are specified “values” of the University of Virginia (are there? really?), and anybody opposing those values loses their right to speak on campus:
Simply put, there is a blatant dichotomy between the values that Pence and the University hold. Once so-called politics turn into transphobia, homophobia and racism, they are no longer mere political beliefs — but rather bigotry that threatens the well-being and safety of students on Grounds. The Cavalier Daily’s Editorial Board does not condone platforming an individual that not only denies the existence of our diverse community, but participates in the violent rhetoric that perpetuates harm against these individuals. To our administration — we implore you to do better. Protect your students. To our fellow students and community members, particularly those who have been adversely affected by Pence — we stand with you.
They might as well have written: “To our administration, we implore you to invite only those speakers with Progressive Democratic viewpoints. Protect your students from hearing anything that might offend them.”
It’s particularly galling when a newspaper, especially one at a government-funded school, comes out against the First Amendment. For make no mistake about it: the kind of speech that the newspaper would ban (if they could) is absolutely permitted under the First Amendment.
What we have here is a pack of bawling morons who don’t understand freedom of speech, all editing a newspaper. Such are college campuses these days, where only certain “values” can be articulated, and anything that questions those values is seen as both hateful and violent.