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Our education system has failed. We must reform it.
Free speech has always been a critical way to protect the rights of oppressed minorities and advocate for better treatment.
One of the purposes of our public education system is (or at least should be) to educate children and prepare them to be good citizens. Given how many college students think it is appropriate to illegally deprive someone of his First Amendment rights by shouting him down, it is clear that our K-12 schools have completely failed in basic civic education.
This is not new, and this poll is not an outlier. See here and here and here and here.
The fact that a significant number of college students believe that it is acceptable to use violence to silence "offensive" ideas is even more disturbing and is very dangerous for the future stability of this nation. We do not want to become a failed former democracy in the Third World. As I said in early 2017:
Once you establish that you can punch someone for his political opinions, then it is a short step to open gang warfare in the streets between rival political factions.
So the problem is bad, but how do we fix it? There are things that institutions of higher learning can do to protect a culture of free speech, but the educational failure starts much earlier than a first college class. All fifty state legislatures should mandate civics classes at the elementary, middle school and high school levels, explaining the value of liberty and why free speech is so important to maintaining our system of government. Our public school system, instead of preparing children to be good citizens, has instead prepared them to hate the foundational values of our nation.
An important lesson for people concerned about "hate speech" is how critical the First Amendment was in moving this nation to finally recognize that Black citizens should have the same rights as White people. Had we shut down "controversial" speakers in the 1950's and 1960's who were exposing the unfairness of segregation and the brutality of government's efforts to keep it in place, government-enforced segregation would have stood for longer and might even exist today. Free speech has always been a critical way to protect the rights of oppressed minorities and advocate for better treatment. Free speech is not a way for the "cis white male establishment" to oppress others.
This does not let universities off the hook, nor does it mean that local and state governments cannot do things right now at the university level. Universities need to stand strong on free speech, no matter how much wailing they hear from "students" opposed to hearing opposing perspectives. Local governments need to use their police forces to crack down on people trying to shout down speakers, and state governments need to force both local governments and universities to protect free speech rights.
University "speech codes" have been challenged and overturned all over the country, but censorship by mob rule might actually be more dangerous long term because it shows the Communist mind-virus has infected the future leaders of our nation. This is not a battle that can be won in a year or two. This is a generational struggle that requires us to educate our citizens from early ages about the value of liberty, especially free speech. We must completely destroy the hoax that free speech is a threat to the "safety" of anyone. Are conservatives and true liberals (who used to be the first line of defense on free speech) prepared for the long battle required to save the foundational values of our Republic?
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