Proft: Campus protests threaten free speech
The battle between free speech and political correctness rages on as college students on campuses across the U.S. – and, more recently, in Canada – protest speakers who don't espouse liberal ideology, The Morning Answer radio show host Dan Proft said recently.
On March 17, Jordan Peterson, a controversial psychology professor from the University of Toronto, was invited to speak at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, about a proposed bill that would criminalize discriminatory speech on the basis of gender identity, but his presence led to a chaotic scene on campus.
Bill C-16 says people must use preferred pronouns of gender for non-binary people or face prosecution. Peterson is a vocal opponent of what he calls “compelled speech” and he says he does not recognize “another person's right to determine what pronouns he uses to address them,” according to CBC Radio Canada.
Legislation like this could happen in Illinois or anywhere else in America, Proft said. Proft is a principal of Local Government Information Services, which owns this publication.
Peterson was shouted down by student demonstrators and was unable to speak freely.
"(This) is certainly something we are familiar with in the United States, whether it’s a provocateur like Milo Yiannopoulos or an eminent sociologist like Charles Murray," Proft said.
Students who wanted to hear what Peterson had to say chanted “Let him speak.” In response, anti-Peterson demonstrators yelled, “(Expletive) you!”
“That’s the quality of the argument I guess on the other side,” Proft said.
Because of protests in the U.S. like the one at McMaster, legislators in some states want to take steps to protect free speech at public colleges and universities. In February, Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) introduced a bill based on model legislation that would require public colleges and universities to implement policies underlining the importance free expression.
The bill, known as HB 2939, was sent to the House Rules Committee on March 31.
Proft pointed to a Wall Street Journal opinion piece written by Crispin Sartwell, an associate professor of philosophy at Dickinson College, about students disrupting speaking events that highlight viewpoints opposing left-leaning ideals.
Sartwell wrote that the liberal left’s position is that you can improve life through redefining vocabulary. Words have so much power, that if you redefine a word or how it is used, you can create an alternate universe. For example, a person can say they are no longer a man or a woman based on the vocabulary that is used about gender.
After redefining vocabulary to create the alternative universe, you have to control what people think, see, read, and hear to keep the alternate universe intact, which means free speech must be controlled to a certain extent based on the description in Sartwell’s article.
"That’s exactly what’s already happening on college campuses in this country," Proft said. "It just hasn’t been codified into law nationally like it is in Canada," Proft said.