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Free-Speech Advocates Are Not Trying to Silence Students

Free-Speech Advocates Are Not Trying to Silence Students

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A recurring falsehood in the ongoing debate about campus culture, politics, and policy.

Last week, I surveyed the overwhelming evidence that free speech is threatened on campus. But I did not address a counterargument that uncharitable skeptics of that position keep repeating: that those who defend liberal values in higher education are really trying to silence or distract from students who speak out against racism.

That is a pernicious falsehood every bit as bankrupt as the similarly uncharitable belief that all accusations of racism are really just cynical power grabs built on lies.

[...]

Despite the fact that the falsehood has been explicitly repudiated by so many defenders of free speech, and stands in stark conflict with the principles that they espouse, it was repeated again last week in the Intelligence Squared debate on campus speech.