On college campuses across the nation, a culture of fear and intimidation has choked the life out of academic freedom. Propagated by a cartel of activist-wannabes posing as intellectuals and their legion of navel-gazing student cupcakes, American institutions of higher education, once the brightest beacons of free thought and civil discourse in the world, are rapidly devolving into a dystopian nightmare.
According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, an organization dedicated to protecting the sanctity of the First Amendment in American higher education, in the 2014-2015 school year, 93.4 percent of the 440 colleges and universities it surveyed maintained at least one speech policy that either “unambiguously infringe[d] on protected expression” or “clearly restrict[ed] freedom of speech.” Only 5 percent — 22 schools, including George Mason — had speech policies that did not seriously threaten campus expression.
In schools that have not prioritized freedom of expression, the scene may as well be a chapter out of The Giver or 1984.
In December 2014, at the University of Michigan, a conservative student’s apartment doorway was vandalized in the middle of the night with a full print-out of Satan and demands he “shut the f*** up” after he wrote a satirical op-ed poking fun at political correctness.
At Wesleyan University, a student penned an opinion piece criticizing the anti-cop factions of Black Lives Matter. Incensed, several members of the student body stole and destroyed copies of the newspaper, verbally accosted the author and publicly branded him as a racist.
In 2016, a mob comprised of students and faculty members at the California State University at Los Angeles went full-Trump and violently disrupted a lecture by Ben Shapiro. Although the mob blocked entrances, physically assaulted attendees and pulled the fire alarm, campus security refused to intervene, saying there was no safety issue (even though Shapiro himself needed to be escorted by security personnel through a secret exit following his speech).
The Supreme Court, in a 1992 unanimous decision authored by Justice Scalia, reminded us that speech, if otherwise permissible, may not be restricted “solely on the basis of the subjects the speech addresses” and that the state “may not regulate [expression] based on hostility — or favoritism — towards the underlying message expressed.” A lawful message, regardless of its vulgarity, should be valued, for it is the purest test of whether our republic remains a servant of freedom.
By confirming the new name and rejecting the baseless accusations of foul play peddled by extreme left-wing factions, SCHEV drew a firm line in the sand against the demonization of unpopular voices. For the time being, demagogic attempts by student and faculty members to suppress unorthodox viewpoints will not be tolerated at George Mason. Instead, the school will remain committed to fostering a culture of diversity and freedom of expression.
As a proud student at the Antonin Scalia Law School, I applaud President Ángel Cabrera, SCHEV and all those who stood firmly for the idea that all voices deserve to be heard.
Thomas Wheatley is a law student at George Mason University.