Another university has cancelled a conservative speaker under the guise of security concerns. The speaker is Milo Yiannopoulos who has repeatedly been disrupted or cancelled in his effort to speak on campuses (as well as being barred by Twitter). Yiannopoulos attracts considerable opposition and seems to relish the controversy with his “Dangerous Faggot” tour.
I have been a critic of the erosion of free speech values on our college and university campuses. As discussed recently, conservative speaker Milo Yiannopoulous has been the target of some of the most aggressive efforts to silence certain speakers and prevent other students from hearing opposing views. One of the latest such protests occurred hed at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). After protesters blocked fellow students and faculty from entering to hear Yiannopoulous, campus police found an alternative avenue for the audience.
University of Miami’s College Republicans had scheduled the speech for October 3rd, but a faculty panel cancelled the event over alleged “security concerns.” That seems like a rather convenient claim that more often results in the canceling of conservative speakers. If true, the concern is that faculties are yielding to the mob as they seek to block other people from coming and listening to conservative speakers. There is also a concern that security has become the perfect rationale for blocking controversial speakers in the name of campus safety to avoid the obvious denial of free speech. If a university cannot protect the rights of people to be heard on its campus, it has no right to call itself a place of learning. Faculty are routinely appearing as either willing enablers in the silencing of speakers or cringing cowards who fear confronting students who want to silence others.
Schools like the University of Miami have conveyed that they will yield to those who want to prevent others from hearing speakers, particularly speakers from the conservative movement. Obviously, such success in silencing opposing views only encourages others to replicate such censorship or obstruction on other campuses as was the case this month at LSU. Once schools allow students and faculty to taste the silencing of speech, the appetite becomes insatiable and we find ourselves on a slippery slope of censorship as groups and individuals cite microaggressions and discomfort from speech. As academics, we are playing with our own demise in fostering this new age of speech regulation.