What happens when a comedian, a political pundit, and a college professor walk into a federal building? You end up with a funny hearing on the unfunny issue of the assault on free speech rights on college campuses.

A House committee hosted a federal hearing entitled “Challenges to Freedom of Speech on College Campuses” in response to instances of rioting when conservative speakers such as Ann Coulter and even Dr. Condoleezza Rice are invited to speak, as well as the overreactions of college administrators to limit the free speech rights of students on campus.

Carolla was joined by conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, a representative from the Anti-Defamation League, and two academics for the three-hour hearing. He started out calling the adults to lead the children:

“These are 18- and 19-year-old kids who are at these college campuses. They grew up dipped in Purell, playing soccer games where they never kept score and watching Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! And we’re asking them to be mature. We need the adults to start being the adults,” Carolla told the group of about a dozen congressional members.

In a particularly interesting exchange, Carolla schooled a black representative, who challenged free speech rights as a cloak to protect so-called white privilege and promote racism:

“Geez. I want to talk about my white privilege so badly,” the comedian said. “I graduated North Hollywood High with a 1.7 GPA and could not find a job. I walked to a fire station. I was 19 and living in the garage of my family home and my mom was on welfare and food stamps. I said, ‘Can I get a job as a fireman?’ and they said, ‘No, because you’re not black, Hispanic or a woman and we’ll see you in about seven years.’”
Carolla said he spent those years at a construction site picking up trash and learning how to build houses and, sure enough, seven years later he received a letter offering him a firefighter interview. “I was standing in line and a young woman approached and I said, ‘Just out of curiosity, when did you sign up to become a fire person, because I signed up seven years ago.’ She said, ‘Wednesday.’ So that’s an example of my white privilege.”

Shapiro succinctly deconstructed the strategy and rationale behind the violent reactions we’re seeing from students – some of which he experienced firsthand:

Free speech is under assault because of a three-step argument made by the advocates and justifiers of violence.

The first step is they say that the validity or invalidity of an argument can be judged solely by the ethnic, sexual, racial, or cultural identity of the person making the argument.

The second step is that they claim those who say otherwise are engaging in what they call verbal violence.

The final step is they conclude that physical violence is sometimes justified in order to stop such verbal violence.

The point of the hearing was to shed a national light on how students and administrators will go to great lengths to suppress the free exchange of ideas at the place where ideas are meant to be shared and debated. It’s not just that students are protesting, which is within their rights, but that they employ violent and disruptive behavior – think they are justified in doing so.

There were not necessarily prescriptions for legislative action, but Carolla advised that we need to establish order – meaning enforcing the laws and college regulations that exist while punishing those who suppress free speech.