Freedom of speech is more than a legal concept. It’s a bedrock principle that allows the great diversity of America’s 330 million citizens, and their vastly different opinions, to flourish. The First Amendment protects all Americans from government suppression of speech. But a truly open society, where citizens can debate freely, requires more than parchment protections.
American universities, which once valued free inquiry and intellectual debate, are today in the midst of a free speech crisis. Today, college administrators routinely employ policies that restrict the speech of students, faculty, and invited speakers.
Although some students have successfully sued their universities for First Amendment violations, those victories have done little to change the culture of censorship that permeates college campuses and that has, unfortunately, seeped out into other aspects of American life.
Universities, particularly public universities with constitutional obligations, should be held to account for their enormous use of taxpayer dollars. Colleges and universities that suppress dissenting viewpoints should not be allowed to do so with taxpayer money. Instead, they should be made to defend the speech-chilling culture on campus, and the value of the degrees they grant, in a free market that is concerned more with the job prospects of graduates than with whether the campus provides safe spaces for the easily offended.