President Obama’s attempts to put government monitors in newsrooms were defeated, as was legislation introduced by Senator Schumer (D-NY) to limit the First Amendment. Now out of office, Progressives continue to seek ways to restrict free speech. Having lost the ability to do so through government action, they have turned to violence, intimidation, and other forms of pressure.
The violence is evident in the streets, as supporters of President Trump have, to their dismay, frequently found. There have been extensive news reports, including extensive video footage, of left-wing violence in response to Clinton’s loss in the 2016 election and the inauguration of a new president. What has been missing is condemnation of these acts by much of the mainstream media, academia, and progressive politicians.
Intimidation and pressure are evident in many areas, most notably within educational institutions. The Daily Mail provides an example. Gavin, a 12-year-old 6th grade student in St. Louis, Missouri, was assaulted on a school bus for wearing a Trump “Make America Great Again” hat. The incident was recorded on video. The school response was extremely telling. Although he was the victim, he was suspended along with his assailants.
A Goldwater Institute study found:
Freedom of speech is dying on our college campuses, and is increasingly imperiled in society at large…Freedom of speech, that cornerstone of our liberty and most fundamental constitutional right, is under siege on America’s college campuses. Speakers who challenge campus orthodoxies are rarely sought out, are disinvited when called, and are shouted down or otherwise disrupted while on campus. Speech codes that substantially limit First Amendment rights are widespread. New devices like ‘trigger warnings’ and ‘safe spaces’ shelter students from the give-and-take of discussion and debate. When protesters disrupt visiting speakers, or break in on meetings to take them over and list demands, administrators look the other way. Students have come to take it for granted they will face no discipline for such disruptions. Administrators themselves often disinvite controversial speakers and limit the exercise of liberty to narrow ‘free speech zones.’ Administrators also focus enforcement on silencing ‘offensive’ speech and give short shrift to due process protections for students accused of saying the wrong thing to the wrong group.
Kate Hopkins, writing for the Daily Mail asks:
Schools are supposed to teach kids how to think for themselves, not what to think. So why are so many liberal teachers bullying and brain-washing children with their own intolerant views?
Writing for the Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro points out the American left has made political violence its current method of limiting the free speech of those they disagree with the “ New Normal.” Stein writes:
In recent years, under the tender tutelage of the Obama Department of Justice, mass violent action by leftists has become commonplace across the country, from the Occupy Wall Street movement to Black Lives Matter-inspired mob violence in Ferguson and Baltimore, from campus chaos at California State University of Los Angeles to this sort of violence at Trump rallies. The tendency of the media has been, however, to blame the rise of Donald Trump for this violence.
The Gatestone Institute believes:
Universities and colleges in the United States need to be safe places where students of all backgrounds and beliefs can live and study, free from intimidation by other students, faculty, and administrators. Protests are fine, and they are our right as Americans, but there needs to be zero tolerance for violence and intimidation. If a speaker or group is committing or inciting battery, assault or vandalism, the situation should be a police and judicial matter — as well as valid grounds for mandatory expulsion. There is no place for vigilantism by students, faculty or administers on campus to enforce political conformity. There is no place for any kind of intimidation and violence anywhere in the US. We should never let rioters have a hecklers veto over who gets to speak…The rioters have been doing us a favor by showing their real colors.
David Harsanyi, writing for The Federalist asks,
Why Aren’t We Having a National Conversation About Leftist Violence?… Trump’s rhetoric doesn’t excuse the liberal attacks on speech we saw in California and Chicago, or the illiberal “protests” we’ve seen on college campuses for decades now. A protest is a statement or action expressing disapproval of or objection to something. What campus lefties engage in are efforts to stop free expression. For that matter, it’s doesn’t excuse the Democratic Party’s constantassaultsonthe First Amendment. The Left has a free speech problem. When are we going to treat ourselves to a national conversation about the Left’s propensity to undermine free speech? Why aren’t we talking about leftist violence? We treat these events as isolated incidents that have nothing to do with the politics of the contemporary liberalism.
Originally published on the New York Analysis of Policy and Government.