A college campus is a place for higher learning and often a haven for free thinking, fresh ideas and intellectual discovery. I recall back to a past high school instructor of mine who insisted to his recent graduates that in college, they would “sit around and question” things from life to politics to religion. Nonetheless, lately it seems that the mere ability to “question” is being suppressed. The upheaval over Ms. Coulter’s visit has directly denied students, many of who may not even be familiar with her work, the chance to decide for themselves an opinion on her opinions.
In recent years, I have had the unique opportunity to experience three different colleges, and it was not until my third (Fordham) that I witnessed such disapproval from both the administration and opposing political clubs over an invitation to a well-known conservative.
Let me be clear, I am not denying that Ms. Coulter has made controversial statements in her lifetime, as do many life-long political commentators. But this alone should not hinder an individual an invitation to speak when her company is desired.
Furthermore, consistent with Jesuit values, Ms. Coulter is also entitled to her dignity. An email from our university’s president stretching the entire tri-state area (and alumni) that incensed Ms. Coulter’s rescindment was highly irregular and uncalled for. It was also grotesquely unjust to witness the College Republicans be a victim of convenient censorship. I cannot recall a single speaker the College Democrats hosted that drew criticism from university administrators and furthermore an instance when College Republicans invaded their social-media territory.
This incident has not been freedom of speech at its finest. Rather, freedom of speech has been censored. During matters like this, it is best for freedom of speech to govern. Let interested parties attend Ms. Coulter’s event and those disinterested not attend. Moreover, for those who feel so strongly of their dislike towards Ms. Coulter, they are free to protest peacefully. Where would this great nation be without the First Amendment? Surely, the answer is not free at all.
Matt Genovese, GSB ’14