When those words became a popular mantra years ago on college campuses, I wrote that the anti-free speech movement was moving toward compelled speech while declaring dissenting views to be harmful.
Today, it isn’t just silence that is considered violence on college campuses. It is also speech, as both faculty and students are actively shutting down opposing views on subjects ranging from abortion to climate change to transgender issues.
Recently, many people were shocked by a videotape of Hunter College professor Shellyne Rodríguez trashing a pro-life student display in New York. Most were focused on her profanity and vandalism, but there were familiar phrases that appeared in her diatribe to the clearly shocked students.
Before trashing the table, she told the students, “You’re not educating s–t […] This is f–king propaganda. What are you going to do, like, anti-trans next? This is bulls–t. This is violent. You’re triggering my students.”
The videotape revealed one other thing. At Hunter College, and at other colleges, it seems that trashing a pro-life student display and abusing pro-life students is not considered a firing offense. Hunter College refused to fire Rodríguez.
The PSC Graduate Center, the labor organization of graduate and professional schools at the City University of New York, supported that decision and said Rodríguez was “justified” in trashing the display, which the organization described as “dangerously false propaganda” and “disinformation.”
Rodríguez later put a machete to the neck of a reporter, threatened to chop him up and then chased a news crew down a street with the machete in hand. Somewhere between the machete to the neck and chasing the reporters down the street, Hunter College finally decided that Rodríguez had to go.
Rodríguez denounced the school for having “capitulated” to “racists, white nationalists, and misogynists.” She explained that her firing was just a continuation of “attacks on women, trans people, black people, Latinx people, migrants, and beyond.”
The redefinition of opposing views as “violence” is a favorite excuse for violent groups like antifa, which continue to physically assault speakers with pro-life and other disfavored views. As explained by Rutgers Professor Mark Bray in his “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook,” the group believes that “‘free speech’ as such is merely a bourgeois fantasy unworthy of consideration.”
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