Free speech on campuses

To the editor:

There have been several writings in the Opinion page of The Messenger regarding the loss of freedom of speech on certain university campuses. Each of the writings provided insight into the loss of the freedom to express oneself on some campuses if you are a conservative in your political ideology. Conservatives have had their speeches drowned out by activists, and in some cases canceled altogether, because some students have gotten their feelings hurt, or some similar reason. Understand that those having their feelings hurt may not in fact represent the majority of the students. We have come to know that many conservatives, particularly Republican conservatives, are afraid to express their views for fear of retribution not only by vocal radical student activists, but by their professors, and indeed by administrators. Any who have attended a higher education class know very well what hold a professor has on you.

The Messenger prints on the Opinion page the “First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution” that states in part that“Congress shall make no law. … or abridging the freedom of speech …” Colleges and universities, and even some high schools, are doing what Congress has not done – suppress a very basic American freedom.

A recent writing in the Opinion page titled “Freedom of expression on campus,” by George Will, stated that the University of Michigan has what Will refers to as “bias response teams” that produce “a surveillance state on campus where students and faculty must guard their every utterance for fear of being reported to and investigated” by bureaucrats. Will goes on to state that Speech First, an organization suing Michigan for violations of students’ constitutional rights, says that Michigan’s speech regulation is to submit offenders to “restorative justice”, “individual education” and “unconscious bias training. I am not sure what all that mumble jumble means but upon reading the “individual education” part my mind immediately went to what happened in 1975 when North Vietnam defeated South Vietnam and sent thousands from the south to “re-education” camps, to teach them the error of their ways.

There are “safe zones” on some college campuses that are a place to go to rid yourself of the speech or action by someone that has somehow been hurtful or offensive. Such is in the eyes of the beholder and if scrutinized may simply be a way of suppressing the other person’s speech but of course not their speech.

Chuck Peterson

Fort Dodge