The Intolerance of Thought: A Perspective


On August 1, 2016, Ben Shapiro, a conservative American political commentator, was notified that DePaul University’s administration had banned him from speaking at the university due to “security concerns”. The Washington Times reported that Shapiro called the ban an “assault on free speech.”

Shapiro further stated:

“It’s both pathetic and predictable that the university is happy to grant a veto on speakers to snowflake leftists so long as the leftists threaten violence.” He told The Daily Wire. “This is how free speech dies: when people in power cave to the bullies rather than standing up for basic rights.”

This drama continued November 16, 2016, when DePaul University, again banned Ben Shapiro from speaking at a public event sponsored by the DePaul chapter of Young Americans for Freedom; the talk was on campus intolerance. Not only was Shapiro refused entry to participate as a speaker at this event, he was also refused admittance as an audience member.

The Claremont Independent reported that, Pulitzer Prize winning author, George Will, was dis-invited to speak at, Scripps College ninth annual Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs Program. The mission of this program is to bring speakers to campus whose political views differ from the majority of students at the all-women’s college.

It appeared the dis-invitation was due to a recent column Will wrote on sexual harassment on college campuses.

Neither Shapiro or Will were allowed to exercise their freedom of speech and academic expression in the very halls that are supposed to teach students about wide ranging perspectives, culture, and viewpoints.

Instead, there is a trend that demonstrates that higher education is being drowned out by liberal cries for greater “tolerance”.

However, what is tolerance if the very actions that defend “tolerance” instead demonstrate intolerance?

What does it mean, if you only hear what you prefer to hear, and not truly hear what other people are saying? What does it say, if you resort to violence to force others to stop a free exchange of ideas and thoughts?

Is that truly being tolerant? Or are violent acts an acceptable means to actively engage in intolerance under the false guise of “being accepting”?

This backlash against “liberal intolerance” is even starting to reverberate even with other self-professed liberals.

Just two years ago, President Obama gave a speech about this same issue and stated, “I’ve heard of some college campuses where they don’t want to have a guest speaker who is too conservative. Or they don’t want to read a book if it has language that is offensive to African-Americans, or somehow sends a demeaning signal towards women. I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view.”

Is it really acceptable to cast out a speaker or initiate violence just because someone else says things that you disagree with?

Such discriminatory actions undercut the very freedoms that are defined within the U.S. Constitution; the ones that afford all Americans the right to speak freely.

This kind of dangerous thinking certainly hints at fascism and undermines core American values.

The purpose of going to a college or university is not just to get a degree, it’s also to be exposed to a variety of views and ideologies. When ideas go unrepresented in key discussions it “turns classrooms into echo chambers rather than sounding boards.”

According to a study conducted by the Association for Psychological Science, over a third of social psychologists admitted to discriminating against conservatives, even if they are qualified for a position. If liberals are so interested in having more acceptance and more tolerance in America then they should focus not only on others, but on themselves.

You can blame everyone else all you want, but true change won’t occur until you change yourself.

You must accept people’s right to have a differing opinion than your own, and you must understand and realize that not everyone will agree with you. This doesn’t make them a racist, a misogynist, or a homophobe… it simply means that they have a different point of view.

During the 2016 presidential election both major parties provided further evidence that labeling people who have differing viewpoints does not always work. If you want to create change, insults are less useful than discourse. Americans should, and need to, debate ideas and differing perspectives, but such a debate cannot occur if only one perspective is allowed to speak.

Being close-minded towards other avenues of thought doesn’t demonstrate “tolerance”, it demonstrates rudeness. It demonstrates a lack of flexibility and openness. It demonstrates intolerance.

A commonly used quote that applies to both family and friendships is, “If you want to stay friends, don’t talk about politics.” Why should that be? Why shouldn’t people be able to freely discuss varying political thought without jeopardizing both familial relationships and friendships? If people truly want to unite this country then they must realize that you can’t always blame the other side for your problems, you have to take responsibility; not just on common issues, but on the acceptance that all perspectives should be allowed the same freedoms and tolerances you yourself are asking be given to you. Ask for greater tolerance of all thought, not just your own.

* Ryan Kuo is a student attending Oregon State University for his BS in political science.

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