At William & Mary in Virginia, students were prevented from holding an open exchange of ideas on free speech because Black Lives Matter doesn’t think every American has the right to it – and they couldn’t be more wrong.
The college recently hosted Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, ACLU of Virginia’s Executive Director, to speak about the First Amendment for a student-sponsored event. This follows the Charlottesville protests when the ACLU defended the white nationalists’ right to free speech.
This is important. Regardless of their political leanings, the ACLU has stood for free speech rights – even for those whose ideas and language is abhorrent or runs counter to the mainstream. Our Constitution protects those rights, by the way.
Don’t tell that to Black Lives Matters (BLM) protestors who reportedly stormed the stage within the first few minutes of Gastanaga’s entrance and shouted down the speaker – ending all discussion.
The college paper reported:
Signs in hand, the protesters shouted chants such as “liberalism is white supremacy” and “the revolution will not uphold the constitution.”
“When is the free speech of the oppressed protected?” a BLM group representative asked. “We know from personal experience that rights granted to wealthy, white, cis, male, straight bodies do not trickle down to marginalized groups. We face greater barriers and consequences for speaking.”
The irony is that these protestors are demonstrating based on the freedoms granted by the very document they are refusing to uphold. Perhaps they need to both read it and understand it.
This group was not an official student group recognized on campus but members of the local BLM group who alerted members to their plans in advance, then livestreamed the protest on Facebook.
The university president shed light on the situation and iterated this kind of intolerance for academic freedom would not be tolerated at William & Mary. He sent a clear message that other university presidents should run with:
Silencing certain voices in order to advance the cause of others is not acceptable in our community. This stifles debate and prevents those who’ve come to hear a speaker, our students in particular, from asking questions, often hard questions, and from engaging in debate where the strength of ideas, not the power of shouting, is the currency. William & Mary must be a campus that welcomes difficult conversations, honest debate and civil dialogue.”
The BLM group was acting with cowardice not courage. Figure out a way to dialogue and disagree, don’t disrupt to make your point.
Progressives have played with intolerance in their ranks for too long and now it’s out of hand. Remember when President Obama admonished students to listen and debate but not shut down opposing views, then he failed to practice what he preached while governing? This is the result.