Op-ed: Censorship in Seattle

  • By Cal Thomas
  • Monday, October 16, 2017 10:59am
  • Opinion

If it were a plague, the government would rush to quarantine the infected, as occurred during Europe’s Black Death in the 14th century.

An immigration debate at Seattle University School of Law is a plague of a different sort, but deadly in a different way. The victim here is the right to free speech.

The Washington Free Beacon reports that Annette Clark, the dean of Seattle University’s Law School, has revoked the school’s sponsorship of a Federalist Society event. The reason? The proposed debate on immigration, hosted by the school’s Access to Justice Institute, might be “harmful” to minority students and “undocumented immigrants,” aka people who broke the law to get to America, though we are not supposed to talk like that these days.

At first I thought it was a joke. It is. But a joke played on those elites who claim to believe in tolerance, academic freedom and inclusion. Dean Clark’s edict reflects her and the school’s intolerance, academic propaganda and exclusion of any view that does not conform to the university’s imposed ideology. Isn’t this the stuff of re-education camps and gulags?

Many college campuses claim devotion to diversity, while practicing and imposing conformity. To them, diversity has to do with skin color, ethnicity and sexual orientation. It is secular liberalism dressed up in different garb. Real diversity would include people of different opinions.

At Seattle U’s Law School, the Federalist Society, a conservative organization that believes in an originalist view of the Constitution, was preparing for an immigration debate. The last I checked a debate is supposed to include opposing points of view. The purpose of a debate is to inform people so they can decide which view is superior to the other. In the ’80s, these were the kinds of debates in which I participated on many college campuses. With only a few exceptions I was granted a respectful hearing, as was my debate opponent. Often we would attend a dinner before the debate, or a reception afterward, where students and faculty could observe us interacting with decorum, humor and mutual respect.

Invitations to college campuses began disappearing in the ’90s and I haven’t had any since. The stories of high-profile speakers being denied the right to speak or shouted down and demonstrated against should they actually make it onto a campus are legion.

The kind of censorship practiced in Seattle is not unique to that school either. It is trending across the country. Increasingly, campuses have become “safe spaces” so that “snowflakes” will not be troubled by ideas that rattle their still developing brains, which should, instead of stagnating, constantly evolve. If they think they already know everything, why spend time and money going to college?

The greater question is this: Why do so many parents, especially conservative parents, send their children to schools that undermine their faith and values, distort history and promote causes that will not help them get a job once they graduate? A corollary question: Why do students take on so much debt to attend universities where their “consciences” might be raised on the liberal side, but where they are shielded from what real life looks like?

Nat Hentoff, the late liberal journalist and social critic, said the answer to speech you don’t like is not less speech, but more speech. The students at Seattle Law School are being denied a well-rounded education by the speech and thought police. Students should demand that a portion of their tuition be refunded and the federal government should consider denying tax subsidies to institutions of “higher learning” that practice censorship.

Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.

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