Conservatives, no matter how wrong they are, should still be allowed to speak
Intolerance of opinion should not be an inner issue for progressives. Those who consider themselves progressives must be open to debate facts, opinions, and even question their own ideas. To the contrary, progressivism is just another ideology that can be irrational as religion.
Lately, the progressive community’s reputation has been hurt by a radical wing that cannot stand the fact that their is difference of opinions. A group of “progressive” activists that silence those who hold different views. And it is sad that this issue exists clearly in our universities, as can be seen in the incident occurred at DePaul University between student protesters and Milo Yiannopoulos, a conservative writer.
Yiannopoulos visited DePaul University as part of his “Dangerous Faggot Tour” (he is openly homosexual). For many weeks leading up to the event, students at DePaul University had protested the event and created petitions to stop Yiannopoulos from holding the event.
The day of the event, a student protester interrupted Yiannopoulos as he started a discussion to discredit the theory of “micro-aggression”. Once the protester stormed the stage, he took the microphone form Yiannopoulos hands and said the following:
“We have heard enough of the this foolishness. Every time you hear this foolishness, it’s followed by the blood on somebody else’s heads… Microagressions don’t exist? The dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Oh my god you’re an idiot”.
I have two problems with this action. Instead of calling Milo Yiannopoulos a fool and an idiot, the student could have used the fact that he was on stage to debate Yiannopoulos point. If he was trying to get a point across on why Yiannopoulos was wrong, it would have been better to debate Yiannopoulos in front of an audience that clearly held the same conservative beliefs. As progressives, is silencing a conservative writer more productive than showing his followers why his ideas are wrong?
Like I said, we should be open to debating different view points, not silencing them. Through debate, we reach new solutions and ideas to confront society’s issues. And if there are any ideas that can hinder progress, the best way to stop these ideas is to debate and discredit them.
And there is the bigger issue of personal liberty. If you see the video, one student got in Milo Yiannopoulos face and shouted at him. The action was not only disrespectful and inviting physical violence, she was reflecting an authoritarian behavior that is no different than when Donald Trump supporters confronts and silence protesters at one of his rallies.
There is no doubt that when human beings have adapted a certain belief system, many don’t like to be challenged. Often a challenge against a belief will incite the ugliest of human passions. And this can be extremely dangerous when the view that is being challenged is that of the majority.
Taking into account that universities are liberal leaning, we have seen many cases of student activists silencing the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos. And often, these protests can take on a form of physical intimidation. Such as the time when a pro-life activists was harassed by a professor who called her a terrorist.
As progressives, it is important that we denounce this trend of authoritarianism and intolerance that is sweeping universities. Universities are often considered to be liberal strongholds but that is not the true nature of higher learning.
Historically, universities are spaces that encourage free thinking and diversity of opinion, no matter how socially deviant an opinion may be. Without this freedom of thought, academia would have never challenged old ideas and developed its liberal leaning nature.
Yet, it is important that we respect this same tradition of free thinking and open debate that has helped us discredit norms and beliefs that were wrong or outdated. Should there ever be a new argument towards why a wrong belief should be revived, such as the belief in creationism, academia should be the first place where this belief can be freely debated.
Universities are not safe spaces for a certain group of ideological persuasion. They should be where all machinations of the human mind should be put up for debate.
Milo Yiannopoulos, an ardent anti-feminist, may be wrong on many issues. And he may encourage ideas that hinder our progress. He also has a propensity to say many controversial and disrespectful things. But that is no excuse to silence him, or any other conservative. Much less in an academic setting.
Students who silence this freedom of opinion do not reflect any progressive values. They are not progressives, much less liberals. They are authoritarian leftists.