By Thomas K. Lindsay
Over the past few years, a glut of news accounts has exposed serious restrictions on free speech and debate on American campuses. University speech codes, restrictive “free-speech zones,” commencement speaker “dis-invitations,” and campus shout-downs of invited speakers (the unconstitutional “heckler’s veto”) threaten to undermine our schools’ defining mission: the free, nonpartisan quest for truth.
There is no more pressing issue in higher education today. The effect of campus intolerance and censorship on students is explained in the saying, “The philosophy taught in the classroom in this generation will be the philosophy practiced in the legislature in the next.” If college graduates go on to practice the intolerance they are too often taught today, self-government is doomed.
Aristotle, in The Politics, offers his famous formulation that we human beings are by nature “political animals.” By this he means that an aspect of human nature, our “political capacity,” requires for its completion or perfection our employing logos (logos can mean both “reason” and “speech”) for the purpose of discovering and communicating to our fellow citizens what we deem to be advantageous, just, and good for our political community. Needless to say, such discovery and communication cannot take place absent the freedom to speak and debate. Such absence weakens society and the individual alike. CONTINUE READING HERE