Donald Trump has become the definitive “hate speech” icon for leftists on campus. Colleges are no longer the great havens of free expression and discourse they once were. The era of “trigger warnings” has created a toxic and extreme environment that is killing critical thinking. Students have lost their ability to debate opposition, and resort to censorship rather than discourse. Someone who is “triggered” feels inclined to report rather than debate.
A recent article from the Washington Post, written by Susan Svrluga sheds some light on modern campus censorship. According to Svrluga, students at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia have been chalking slogans in support of presidential hopeful Donald Trump on campus sidewalks. A group of students reported the happenings to university president James Wagner.
Wagner then released a statement which can be interpreted as ambiguous. While Mr. Wagner said he wants to support free speech, he also wants to refine policy, and believes in a “safe environment.”
These chalking incidents have reached far more than Emory University. “Trump” chalking has appeared at more locations, including UC San Diego and other campuses nationwide.
It is imperative that free speech be protected at all costs on a college campus. If we lose our right to speech, we lose our ability to think. And while Trump has cast himself in a light that many students deem offensive, this in no way justifies speech censorship.
However, censorship is already happening at American schools. According to a study reported through Prager University, by The Foundation For Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), an estimated 54% of public universities impose speech regulations.
The only definitions and regulations that should be applied to speech on campus are those already outlined in U.S. law, and in the Constitution. As George Washington once said,
If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.
Donald Trump and his supporters are definitely challenging the tolerance of leftist students and faculty. While Trump is an official and legitimate candidate for President, his supporters are treated as extremists on campus. If we censor campus speech based on either ideology or support of a presidential candidate, we are setting precedents for the future. Any type of speech censorship is going to result in administrators taking greater liberties when it comes to free expression in the future.
Whether you like Trump or not, students using chalk to show their support is not hate speech. If a student is hurt by the name of another person, they are obviously not prepared to handle the challenges of the real world. Speech censorship kills critical thinking, and if it continues to propagate throughout our colleges, our society will only get worse.