By William Murchison
You and me both: Why would the Texas Senate need to pass –as happened the other day, amid rare unanimity — legislation requiring uniform free speech policies on college campuses along with procedures for protecting free speech duly exercised thereon?
We all, sadly, know the answer. It is that college these days stirs brains and deepens reflection on matters lofty and lowly. It seems college’s main business lately is the reordering of social and political priorities: making up for perceived injuries; pulling down “harmful” ideas while empowering, empowering, empowering. Pretty political stuff. But that’s what we’re all about in 21st century America: politics; the bending of other people’s wills to our own.
Hence S. B. 18, as notable for being passed unanimously as for any of its provisions. Says its sponsor, Sen. Joan Huffman, a Texas Republican: “Our college students, our future leaders, they should be exposed to all ideas, I don’t care how liberal they are or how conservative they are. Sometimes we feel offended by what someone else says, and that’s just too bad in my book.”
Next a vote in the House. And a gubernatorial signing. And that’ll take care of free speech issues at Texas colleges, won’t it?
Likely not. The problem S. B. 18 addresses isn’t chiefly political. It’s cultural, reflecting the desire of many these days — more often outside Texas than within it, praise be — to cram their viewpoints down everyone else’s throat. Often with the encouragement of zealots on the faculty; and always without the inspection of a given viewpoint either for factuality or coherence.
Factual — we don’t care. All we know is, the other side’s wrong. Coherent? Our views are coherent ipso facto. Or, you know, whatever the Romans used to say. Don’t ask us why they said it. Or who the Romans were. They don’t teach us no more about dead white men and their dead-white-man ideas. We’re right. You’re wrong. Isn’t that enough?
It’s not generally believed to be enough. Or wasn’t until recent times, prior to which college required one to make a case for one’s views. This was partly on the basis of contrast with the duly analyzed views of others.
“Others”? What other people know about, we already know and are more than glad to tell them, provided they shut up and listen, and promise to be good afterwards.
Hence S. B. 18. Hence those uniform programs our colleges and universities are going to have to draw up for the protection of one of the most basic constitutional rights known to the human race –the right of free speech, sung by all friends of human liberty as a near-incomparable glory. Speech no matter how liberal, no matter how conservative, the lady says, rightly.