Conservatives have come to expect that they might be protested, ridiculed and dis-invited when they venture to speak on college campuses, but the penalty for telling students something they disagree with has taken a more violent turn.
Buttressed by an ideology that views “hate speech” as violence and its suppression as self-defense, students increasingly are resorting to the destruction of property and assault to keep conservative speakers quiet.
Students at Wellesley College made the intellectual case for using force to stifle free speech in an editorial last week, arguing that “hostility may be warranted” against people who are “given the resources to learn” yet “refuse to adapt their beliefs.”
“If people continue to support racist politicians or pay for speakers that prop up speech that will lead to the harm of others,” the students wrote in the April 12 editorial in The Wellesley News, “then it is critical to take the appropriate measures to hold them accountable for their actions.”
The editorial was shared widely over social media — so much so that the student newspaper’s website crashed on April 14 because of the volume of traffic — and was condemned by conservatives and liberals alike.
Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, said the ideas expressed in the editorial are not new. He traces their lineage to German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, Italian communist theorist Antonio Gramsci and German-American philosopher Herbert Marcuse, whose ideas greatly influenced the students of the New Left in the 1960s.