I don’t endorse this idea — increased federal fines for schools that “indulge the student-radical mob” – but can you imagine if universities policed limitations on the First Amendment (e.g. “hostile thought environments”) the way they policed statutory violations of anti-discrimination law? It would be just as awful.
Here’s Baer [the NYU Administrator who wrote an op-ed to defend limitations on speech], with words that should chill every American heart:
“The idea of freedom of speech does not mean a blanket permission to say anything anybody thinks. It means balancing the inherent value of a given view with the obligation to ensure that other members of a given community can participate in discourse as fully recognized members of that community. Free-speech protections — not only but especially in universities, which aim to educate students in how to belong to various communities — should not mean that someone’s humanity, or their right to participate in political speech as political agents, can be freely attacked, demeaned or questioned.”
In other words, campus radicals will let you speak only when they deem your speech is worthy. And if they don’t? Then, the mob isn’t a mob, it’s a collection of idealists “keeping watch over the soul of our republic.”
Enough. We cannot count on campus administrators to protect free speech. They’re so terrified of the radicals that they’re more prone to apologize for free speech, arguably our nation’s most essential liberty, than they are to defend it. Witness Berkeley bowing before the mob time and again. Witness the groveling apology from the chairman of Middlebury’s political-science department to the campus community. A mob attacked and wounded a member of the faculty, and this man actually said that his decision to offer a “symbolic department co-sponsorship” of the event at which that attack occurred contributed to a “feeling of voicelessness” that “many” allegedly experience on campus.
Their voices seemed plenty loud when they violently shut down Murray’s speech.
If we can’t count on courts or colleges to protect free speech, then it’s time for Congress to step up. There’s a remarkably simple solution to the problem of free speech, at least on public university campuses: Adjust the incentives. Make it costlier to censor than to protect the Constitution.