Is it Time to Defund Universities That Don’t Defend Free Speech?


That’s the question being asked over at The Federalist

It’s Time To Talk About Defunding Universities That Won’t Defend Free Speech

President Trump has wondered aloud—or at least tweeted—about the possibility of cutting federal funding for universities that fail to safeguard free speech. In the wake of the riot and arson February 1 that led the University of California at Berkeley to cancel a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, President Trump tweeted, “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”

One telegraphic question does not a policy make, but it does raise a matter worth thinking about. For several years the nation has witnessed an accelerating decline in respect for and protection of intellectual freedom in higher education.

Suppression of Thought and Speech Is Rampant

Some of these stories make headlines. When major colleges and universities “disinvite” prominent national and international leaders after tapping them to give commencement speeches or major addresses, people notice. News also travels in the wake of professional provocateurs such as Yiannopoulos, who intentionally set out to anger the already angry left and often succeed in rousing intemperate reactions to their childish taunts.

In other cases, videos of campus “social justice warriors” in action have captured such outrageous behavior that the public has been rightly alarmed. Professor Melissa Click at the University of Missouri yelling “We need some muscle over here!” The mob of Yale University students surrounding and taunting Professor Nicholas Christakis. The Black Lives Matter protesters rampaging through the library at Dartmouth. These are among dozens of live-action representations of what “protest” at American colleges and universities has devolved into. All too often that protest is lawless, ignorant, and contemptuous of the rights of others to express—or even to hold— contrary views.