The author’s identity is being withheld to protect his security
Thanks for my guest column on the state of free speech on a college campus. That issue has received a lot of attention in the media recently, so it should be an excellent topic to discuss. If you want to read more of my thoughts (other than this article series), check out my website- www.genzconservative.com.
The GenZ Conservative
First, I think an introduction would be appropriate. I am originally from Atlanta, GA, but I now go to school in Virginia. For my degree, I am currently working towards a double major in politics and accounting. I think that those two subject areas will help set me up for success in life, no matter what career path I pursue. In addition to classes and social activities, I am heavily involved in campus politics.
I think it is every student’s responsibility to make their campus a better place. I have tried to do my best to lobby for conservative causes that matter to me and would be suitable for the university. That political involvement has made me a well-known campus conservative.
People that meet me know that due to my involvement in clubs and campus journalism. Not that that’s a bad thing, it just makes my experience a bit different. It shouldn’t, we should all be able to get along with people outside our political sphere, but it does.
That experience has been super valuable and taught me how to get along with all types of people. I can disagree and debate in a respectful way even when the other side isn’t being civil. More importantly, I’m learning how to stand up for myself in a strong manner.
Hopefully, I can educate others on how to do the same through this column and my website. Navigating a college campus as a conservative can be tough; there are lots of obstacles. But maybe this advice can make it a little less difficult for all of the other Gen Z conservatives!
Is Free Speech Disappearing on College Campuses?
America has traditionally been known as a haven for free speech. Granted, you can’t scream “fire” in a crowded theater and cause a panic, but you can always stand up for your beliefs.
Students, for better or worse, stood up against the government to protest the war in Vietnam. African-Americans marched for Civil Rights. Conservatives advocate for reduced taxes and less gun control. Our system is strengthened by free speech because it brings debates into the public sphere.
Once free people debate a topic, it is hard to hide the truth. Americans have always believed in that and treasured their right to free speech; or at least that used to be the case.
A recent phenomenon is that many liberal students, professors, and administrators refuse to accept the concept of free speech. When liberals encounter an idea that they disagree with, they don’t debate it.
Instead, they shut down all conversation. Students start crying and run off to their safe space. Professors scream that you’re wrong, shut down all communication, and harass you for expressing beliefs different than theirs. Administrators refuse to allow conservative speakers to come to visit.
For a conservative student, that atmosphere and environment can be tough to navigate.
Debate is Dying in America
We should be able to express our ideas openly and freely but we can’t — the radical leftists on campus freak out. So, instead of having thoughtful debates on pro-choice versus pro-life, or low taxes versus an increased welfare state, capitalism versus socialism or any other social or political issue, we are forced to listen to the party line on a wide variety of subjects.
There is little to no thoughtful debate of the important matters currently bedeviling American society. Instead, there is just one line of thought expressed; the opinions of the most radical edges of the Democratic party. On many college campuses, conservative students have no voice.
To me, that is incredibly sad and troubling. It is sad because it goes against everything that America once stood for.
We used to be a country known for supporting freedom of speech. Now, we aren’t.
Disagreement is termed hate speech and shut down completely. How saying that lowering taxes is a good policy idea is “spreading hate speech” is beyond me. But it all seems to make sense to the radical left. And that is why it is so troubling.
It would be one thing if these people didn’t honestly believe in what they’re advocating for. If they were using terms like “hate speech” in a cynical way to stifle their political opponents, it would be bad, but easy to combat. It wouldn’t be in line with past American thinking, but it makes sense in a realpolitik sort of way.
And I’m sure some are using their “sensitivity” and calling opposing arguments “hate speech” to do just that. But, the problem is that most aren’t just being Machiavellian. Instead, they seem to believe their propaganda. And that is impossible to combat. If they do think the way they say talk, all hope may be lost.
I don’t like being a pessimist, but I have trouble seeing how we can recover from a situation where tens of thousands of the intellectual elite believe that opposing views are both evil and off-limits for discussion. If the opinions of the other side are “wrong,” you debate those views and use facts and logic to poke holes in the other side’s argument.
That is the right way to handle disagreements.
Unfortunately, liberal students, professors, and administrators on college campuses can’t seem to do that. They are entirely unable to handle the idea of the other side disagreeing with them, so they just shut down all debate.
They aren’t emotionally mature enough to have discussions, so they prevent those debates from happening in the first place.
It is a very sad state of affairs.
Debating With A Leftist?
What can a conservative college student do to push back on the current shut down of free speech?
Three things. If you master these three ways to push back, we might be able to turn the tide.
First: Always to be prepared for debate.
Don’t seek those debates out but be ready to have them if the other side voices a political opinion that you disagree. Know your facts, keep your emotions tucked away, and debate logically.
Ask questions about the other side’s point of view to both better understand it and poke holes in it. Bring up your opinions, and make sure to use indisputable and well-researched facts to support them.
Know your sources, and make sure those sources are reliable. It is also preferable to have unbiased sources. Fox News and Breitbart won’t change minds. The Wall Street Journal or Politico might.
And be willing to debate thoughtfully for however long it takes. Don’t be the first to give in, even if you know that you are right. They will count that as a victory. Instead, be the one that will debate till the end. They will give in first.
Second: Always remain respectful and keep your emotions under control.
The other side can do neither of those things, so they still look ridiculous. Be the bigger man. Instead of making fun of one of them for calling your ideas “hate speech,” instead thoughtfully explain why it is a mainstream and ethically acceptable opinion.
Doing so may seem ridiculous, but it will help keep the debate respectfully going so that you can change minds. Always remember, the other side has authority figures in their corner. As soon as you start lashing out in the same manner that they do, the debate will be shut down, and you might even be punished.
It is a ridiculous double standard, but it exists. Maybe one day we can overturn it, but for now, we need to deal with it.
Finally, keep your emotions in check.
That relates to always being respectful but is worth saying. You will be much more likely to change minds and effectively get your point across if you don’t get angry.
What the other side will be defending might make your blood boil. As I talked about in my “The Democratic Party has Changed” post, the current Democratic party supports some pretty nasty policies like late-term abortion.
I used to get so angry about those things.
Because I was angry, I couldn’t convince anyone that my point of view was the rational and right one. I looked just as emotional and irrational as the left. Now, I do my best to remain calm. That has been a much better strategy for convincing people.
Stick to it, it works.
I hope you enjoyed this post! It should be helpful for those seeking to understand why and how liberals have shut down free speech and how we can fight back against it. Check-in next week for another update on what it’s like to be a conservative on a college campus! In the meantime, check out my website to better understand my views on topics like these. The link is- www.genzconservative.com. Enjoy!