Here’s some disturbing news to make you feel really wonderful about the future of this country. According to a new survey from UCLA Professor John Villasenor, college kids have bought hook, line, and sinker into the social justice idea of conflating speech with violence.
All this talk about people being made to feel “unsafe” when confronted with opinions they don’t agree with, “trigger warnings” that prepare people for the possibility that what they’re about to read could send them over the edge, and “safe spaces” meant to guard timid minorities from the threat of horrifying conservatism…well, it’s really beginning to sink in.
And what is the end result? Well, college kids, in large part, now think violence is a perfectly acceptable way to shut down speech they don’t agree with.
“Let’s say a public university hosts a ‘very controversial speaker,’ one known for making offensive and hurtful statements,” Villasenor wrote in his survey of more than 1,500 college students nationwide. “Would it be acceptable for a student group to disrupt the speech by loudly and repeatedly shouting so that the audience cannot hear the speaker?”
So here we have a basic test of the students’ respect for the First Amendment, their tolerance for differing viewpoints, and their basic sense of civility and manners. How do you think they fared?
Well, if you’ve been paying attention to the recent controversies at UC Berkeley and elsewhere, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that a full 50% of students said it was just fine to make so much noise that a speaker could not be heard by the audience. Worse yet, a full 19% of respondents said it would be fine to use violence to shut the speaker down if mere chants were not enough to get the job done. Remember that particular statistic the next time some liberal tells you that Antifa is just a fringe group.
That may be Villasenor’s most disturbing finding, but it was far from the only depressing news made by the survey. The rest of the questions revealed an intense and frightening apathy/ignorance for the First Amendment. For instance: 40% of respondents believe that there is a “hate speech exception” to that hallowed right. 60% believe (somehow) that there is something in the First Amendment that demands that public universities have to give equal time to opposing viewpoints. How long do these students think the First Amendment is, that it might contain such a clause?
We’re not sure if we’re more unsettled by the fact that America’s youth are ready to shut down free speech with violence or that they are so dangerously misinformed when it comes to our basic constitutional freedoms.
We’re beginning to suspect, however, that the two are inextricably linked.