The Daily Gamecock

Column: The hypocrisy of protesting against free speech

This article is a response to the editorial board article titled Missouri case shows ignoring campus racism no longer an option.

Over the past few weeks the University of Missouri has seen student protests including student and faculty walkouts, a boycott of university services, members of the football team refusing to play and a graduate student's hunger strike that he threatened to continue until he died or the university president resigned. What could be the subject of these protests? Our government's targeted bombing of a Doctor's Without Borders hospital perhaps, or perhaps the treatment of Syrian refugees who, like lepers, are being left to die after repeatedly failing to gain national entry? Nope. Jonathan Butleris willing to starve himself to death because his school isn't doing enough about a poop swastika.

The swastika is, admittedly, just the latest in a string of racially charged incidents at Mizzou involving black students, including the President of the Missouri Student's Association, being called the N-word on and around campus. The university responded by repeatedly condemning these behaviors and meeting with leaders of the Legion of Black Collegians to create a new diversity training program that will be mandatory for all students. This apparently was not enough for the protesters, who continued their demonstrations and demanded their top university administrator's head on a plate. Which they received.

The Daily Gamecock's editorial board, in responding to this incident, wrote that, "even what some perceive as small gestures perpetuate an unacceptable climate, one that students of all races at Missouri are fighting back against. We need to follow their lead ... when those things happen, the university should expel those whose willful ignorance fosters a toxic and dangerous environment."

This argument baffles me and always has. The protesters in Missouri and the editorial board here at The Daily Gamecock are seriously suggesting that diversity and inclusion require the removal and exclusion of those whose "ignorant" ideas are not homogeneous with their own. How are these social justice warriors any different than the bigots they're fighting against if their acceptance only extends to those who agree with them?

Beyond that, how can any journalistic or protesting organization endorse state sanctions against those who exercise their free speech rights? Rarely are people censored for saying things that are polite and complementary; defense of free speech generally requires rallying to the defense of those who say things that we find deplorable or repugnant. Either we all have free speech rights or none of us do. Students cannot give their colleges the power to censor the ignorant without also giving them the power to censor reporters, writers, artists and protesters.