Our Rising Generation of Censors: Stanford and Davis Expose America’s Anti-Free Speech Movement

Below is my column in Fox.com on the recent controversies at Stanford University and University of California at Davis where students sought to prevent others from hearing conservative speakers. These are only the latest manifestations of a growing anti-free speech movement across our campuses.

Here is the column:

When Stanford Law Dean Jenny Martinez left her class this week, she faced a chilling scene. Hundreds of black-clad students wearing masks over their faces stood menacing around her chanting “counter-speech is free speech.”

The students were outraged that Martinez apologized to U.S. Circuit Court Judge Kyle Duncan after he was prevented from speaking to students and faculty last week. These law students believe that conservative viewpoints are “harmful” and thus should not be allowed to be heard on campus. In a twisted concept pushed by many faculty members, they believe that silencing others is an act of free speech.

The same views were evident on Tuesday night at the University of California at Davis, though with a more violent element. Another large group of black-clad protesters wearing masks attacked a venue that was to host a speech from conservative speaker Charlie Kirk.

Police and students attending the event were assaulted, leaving at least one officer injured. The protesters smashed windows, hurled eggs, and used pepper spray to attack the University Credit Union Center and those who wanted to hear Kirk.

It is the face of a rising generation of censors and speech phobics that has been carefully cultivated by many in academia. Our institutions of higher education have become academic echo chambers where opposing views are no longer tolerated and preventing free speech is claimed to be acts of free speech.

A chilling poll was released by 2021 College Free Speech Rankings after questioning a huge body of 37,000 students at 159 top-ranked U.S. colleges and universities. It found that sixty-six percent of college students think shouting down a speaker to stop them from speaking is a legitimate form of free speech.  Another 23 percent believe violence can be used to cancel a speech. That is roughly one out of four supporting violence.

They are getting these values from faculty members. Many schools have largely purged their ranks of conservative and libertarian faculty. This trend is supported by anti-free speech websites like Above the Law where Editor Joe Patrice defended “predominantly liberal faculties” and argued that hiring a conservative professor is akin to allowing a believer in geocentrism to teach. He also mocked surveys showing that conservative students are fearful of speaking freely in class, dismissing these students as “just… conservatives being sad that everyone else makes fun of them.”

What is notable is that Martinez did not even pledge to hold students accountable for stopping the speech by Judge Duncan. Yet, that is still more than other law deans. When Professor Josh Blackman was stopped from speaking about “the importance of free speech” at CUNY law school, CUNY Law Dean Mary Lu Bilek insisted that disrupting the speech on free speech was free speech. (Bilek later cancelled herself after using a controversial term in a meeting and resigned).

At the University of California, Santa Barbara, professors actually rallied around a professor who physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display.

These students have been raised from elementary schools to law school in a speech phobic environment where free speech is treated as harmful. That was evident in the disgraceful Stanford event.

Stanford DEI Dean Tirien Steinbach shocked many by condemning Judge Duncan at the event. It was not surprising to many of us who have watched free speech protections plummet on campuses for decades. When Judge Duncan asked for an administrator to step in to allow him to speak, Steinbach stepped forward and, after voicing support for free speech, joined the mob in denouncing Duncan for trying to speak despite those who opposed his views. She asked “‘even in this time. And again I still ask: Is the juice worth the squeeze?” Judge Duncan responded “What does that mean? I don’t understand…”

Judge Duncan’s confusion is understandable …. unless he has been on a college campus in the last decade. He was still harboring the outdated notion that higher education is based on a diversity of opinions and viewpoints, not orthodoxy.

The argument that stopping free speech is free speech is nothing more than a twisted rationalization. Protesting outside of an event is an act of free speech. Entering an event to shout down or “deplatform” speakers is the denial of free speech. It is also the death knell for higher education in the United States.

The presence of Antifa at the Kirk event was another predictable element.

I testified in the Senate on Antifa and the growing anti-free speech movement in the United States. I specifically disagreed with the statement of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler that Antifa (and its involvement in violent protests) is a “myth.”

It is at its base a movement at war with free speech, defining the right itself as a tool of oppression. It is laid out in Rutgers Professor Mark Bray’s “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook” in which he emphasizes the struggle of the movement against free speech: “At the heart of the anti-fascist outlook is a rejection of the classical liberal phrase that says, ‘I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’”

Bray quotes one Antifa member as summing up their approach to free speech as a “nonargument . . . you have the right to speak but you also have the right to be shut up.”

However, the most chilling statement may have come from arrested Antifa member Jason Charter after an attack on historic statues in Washington, D.C. After his arrest, Charter declared “The Movement is winning.” As the hundreds of black-clad Stanford Law and violent Davis protesters can attest, he is right.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro professor of public interest law at George Washington University and a practicing criminal defense attorney. He is a Fox News contributor.

51 thoughts on “Our Rising Generation of Censors: Stanford and Davis Expose America’s Anti-Free Speech Movement”

  1. Here’s a piece of history concerning free speech. They didn’t call it hate speech then thy just called it wrong speech. Different name same results.

  2. They are not censors, they are progressive clowns that are too stupid to intelligently defend their ideas.

  3. Why not nationalize all of the colleges and universities and install anti-woke and non-woke staff and faculty?

  4. O T
    Some of our commentators object to the use of the phrase “Biden Crime Family” by Prof Turley. D M is reporting today that Beau Biden’s widow, who was working for a school, received $37,500 out of a pot of money sent by a Chinese entity to John R. Walker, an associate of Hunter Biden. She wasn’t even selling either influence or access. She was just a family member. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11868569/Hallie-Biden-new-family-member-shady-business-deals-probe.html

    1. To repeat leftists.

      The walls are closing in.

      Can you imagine Trump not being impeached is a tiny franction of this was true of him and his family ?

      Elsewhere it was pointed out that 6 members of Trump’s campaign were charged with FARA violations – a law generally regarded as unconstitutional, and until Obama never prosecuted. One was convicted of a FARA violation.

      Hunter Biden and associates are a giant walking talking FARA violation. This is not even a close call – further their communications reveal they KNEW they were violating FARA and sought to find ways to hide that through Shell companies.

      Yet no charges ?

      I beleive FARA is unconstitutional.
      But DOJ clearly does not.;
      There is no explanation for not Charging Hunter – and several others – except political bias.

      But FARA is not the only issue.
      One of the Chinese affliated businessmen that Hunter was serving – to the tune of millions has been convicted of violations of the Foriegn Corrupt Business Practices act.

      Again a Law I think is repugnant. Regardless, there is a conviction. His dealings with Hunter were evidence used against him in court – With Hunter Biden’s name redacted.

      Again the Communications reveal that Hunter was concerned about the fact they were violating the FCBPA – so why no charges ?

      Manafort was convicted of Money laundering – which inarguably he did NOT do.
      But the case for money laundering against Hunter appears to be a slam dunk.

      Yet no charges.

        1. Thje big deal – which Sperry raises is that FARA is being consistently used ONLY against republicans.

          This despite the fact there are far more FARA violations on the left.

          Hunter Biden is a walking talking FARA violation.

    2. These patriarchal misogynists treat Hallie like a $100 Russian streetwalker. She’s a great-looking brunette and deserves at least $1000 a night for nursing that crack addict disgrace and keeping him from killing himself after he was fired from the Navy: $375,000.

  5. What I see as one of the base problems is tucking the tail. One example is Judge Duncan who could have easily confronted any one of the protestors or the feeble ill-mannered DEI administrator and asked a simple question, “You, pointing his finger, “what in your great wisdom would you have ruled in this particular case and your reasoning?” Following up “what case law can you site for your ruling?” I understand that being a Monday morning quarterback is easier said than done, but those that have the opportunity should give all effort to demonstrate the empty headedness of WOKE. [Thank you, Professor Turley]. Allowed to fester uninhibited America will drift further into the great fissure of a dystopian sea full of monsters known and unknown and where the craft of this republic may sink. [Rumsveld summarized, there are known unknown and unknown unknowns]. Further, allowing these juvenile fools anywhere near the rudder shows a weakness of authority, and conceit of intellect.

  6. The problem is the inmates are currently running the asylum now. It’s going to get worse. You need only look to every instance when a country has been taken over by a totalitarian group. The first thing they do is redefine words and long standing beliefs of what freedom is.

    When a law professor states, “…disrupting the speech on free speech was free speech….,” we have officially entered the world of “1984” and “double speak.”

    There’s a reason why the Dems/libs/progressives push so hard for liberal/progressive justices on the Supreme Court. They know they do not have the numbers to be able to amend the Constitution as required by Article 5, “The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof….”

    Because the do not have the numbers necessary under Article 5 to amend the Constitution, they need to have justices who will reinterpret the words to meet their desired results. Their argument that the Constitution is a “living document” is for the purpose to avoid Article 5 and the amendment process.

    The Constitution is a set of rules. If you don’t like what it says, then amend it as provided under Article 5. The argument that is too difficult to amend it is false, it has been amended 27 times.

    We are on the cusp of becoming a one party, totalitarian society, where words are violence, where words are hate speech, where words are defined by the government, and free speech is only that speech approved by the government.

  7. As with electric vehicles, a college education can give the illusion of being a wise expenditure only because of massive subsidies. Particularly bad is the use of state lotteries to transfer money from poor and working-class families to upper-middle-class families.

  8. America and indeed the world at our lead is suffering from a horrible case of professorism.
    Bubble people who deserve zero influence in society.

  9. “Counter-speech is free speech,” would be a true statement if it is accepted that “counter-speech” is defined as “actively speaking against what someone else says.” But a problem exists when words are defined incorrectly.

    Most of these activists using that phrase appear to define counter-speech as “active disruption of another’s speech.”That is the anti-thesis of free speech. The acceptance of that idea is like allowing the inmates to run the asylum.

  10. Unless you are treating college as a trade school—fields such as engineering, computer science, accounting, and nursing—stay away. You will learn nothing useful and a hell of a lot that is harmful.

  11. (I just posted this under the good professor’s other blogpost about Chancellor May. Apparently, only right-wing speech is considered a threat to America:
    BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors said, “Myself and Alicia [Garza, BLM co-founder] in particular are trained organizers. We are trained Marxists.” https://www.heritage.org/progressivism/commentary/the-agenda-black-lives-matter-far-different-the-slogan

    And yet, Cullors, in 2021, delivered a UCLA graduate ceremony speech, and a few years ago, Garza was permitted to deliver her speech to graduating students at San Francisco State University.
    Or how about this one:
    Yusra Khogali, Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder, “called white people ‘sub-human’ and said they suffered from recessive genetic defects.'” https://www.ibtimes.com/black-lives-matter-most-controversial-quotes-statements-2492936

    1. “Apparently, only right-wing speech is considered a threat to America”…Yours is certainly not a unique conclusion and has been voiced often in conversations in these pages. Each of these factions expects to be rescued and left standing when the proverbial ‘they’ come for them. Perhaps they should revisit the history of the rise of totalitarian states in the 20th Century. ‘They’ completely dust their brooms.

  12. “counter-speech is free speech.”
    I would actually agree with that.
    But not in the way the violent Left imagines.
    More like, let Charlie Kirk speak. Do not interrupt him. Hear him out.
    Then, have someone present an opposing view. Have a real open debate. Student may applaud if they so choose. But they get to hear both sides, both points of view.

    Using violence is not “counter-speech is free speech.”

    John Say and myself have had a few discussions about the possibility of civil war. To me, this is another example of what lengths the violent leftists will go to silence anyone with a different point of view. I do fear it will escalate. They become more and more embolden, use the excuse that their cause is just to justify the escalation of violence.
    They are the Red Guard.
    Mao have been proud of them.

    What happens when someone pushes back?

    Where is the FBI in all of this?

    1. I do expect increasing violence from the left.

      I posted a vlog from Alan Derschowitz claiming that the Judge Duncan AND Kirk events were PLANNED, and that Stanford and UCB are just the begining.

      Elswhere I have heard that what is occuring at Atlanta and USB is again just dress rehersal and polishing tactics – that the violent left is gearing up RIGHT NOW.
      And that we are in for a violent spring and summer.

      I do not know if this is true. But I suspect it is.

      Regardless, the violent left is not going to start a civil war.
      But they will start a backlash.

      1. John Say,
        With all due respect as I find your comments to be the more logic based comments, I would not put it past this Democrat WH admin to do something truly totalitarian with their DOJ/FBI/MSM stooges to declare some kind of national emergency and claim that them losing is a national security threat, and make themselves dictators for life.

        1. I agree.

          I hope they will.
          The more totalitarian they act the sooner we can get rid of them.

          There are really only permutations of two choices.
          They go more totalitarian and succeed
          or they fail.

          And the first is not likely a real choice.

  13. Nothing that Hickory Riot Batons used “liberally” that would not make an improvement on the situation.

    As I see it counter speech shutting down counter speech that seeks to shut down free speech would be delivering both equality and equity to the situation.

    Show up in Black, wearing masks to hide your identity, and using umbrellas to shield your self while you verbally and physically attack others deserves an immediate and equal reply.

    Video of Police Officers ignoring a rioter stay painting the wall of a university building and retreating when the mob begins to break windows….is not policing as it should be.

    Protest and counter SPEECH is fine….but any. kind of violence….ANY by the protestors immediately turns a protest into a Riot involving CRIMINAL acts.

    As a Police Officer I escorted marchers during the Civil Rights March following Martin Luther King’s murder…..to protect those marching in the protest and the Police were dedicated to that purpose.

    But….as it happens….some hot heads in the crowd of marchers. just had to start throwing rocks and bottles and vandalizing store fronts by breaking windows.

    When that happened the order was given to disperse the crowd and end the protest…..and we did and arrested everyone we saw that was committing the violence that we could.

    That is what is missing these days…..the Rule of Law and what we see as symptoms includes this ignorance of other’s Rights and Freedoms where violations are not only ignored but promoted by the very people who should be calling for adherence to the Law and US Constitution.

    Speech is free….violence must come with a severe penalty no matter who it is that uses illegal violence.

  14. “America’s Rising Generation of Censors: Stanford and Davis Show the Success of the Anti-Free Speech Movement”. And the rise of all other tyrannical movements were also successful at first. It is now a matter of whether there are enough true Americans left who are willing to do something about this aberration.

  15. Jonathan Turley wrote, “The argument that stopping free speech is free speech is nothing more than a twisted rationalization.”

    In my opinion, this is a gross understatement.

    The argument that stopping free speech is free speech is a b-a-s-t-a-r-d-i-z-a-t-i-o-n of the United States Constitution. These people are engaging in pure unadulterated anti-Constitutional behaviors, it’s outright persecution.

  16. The Democrats are grooming students to be their biggest voter base. Unfortunately, the only way they can appeal to these gullible utopians is through lies and violence — the classic stuff of romantic revolutionaries.

  17. The 2nd Amendment is the remedy for tyranny.

    Which part doesn’t the National Socialist Democrat WOKE Party (today’s NAZI Party) understand?

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