We’ve seen what happens when folks dare to speak out against the Black Lives Matter movement — like the police chief forced to resign after his critical Facebook post.
So it’s no surprise that when a college student penned an op-ed in the campus paper challenging the movement’s legitimacy, outrage ensued. In addition to labeling the writer — a two-tour Iraq War veteran — racist, campus activists are calling for the school’s student government to defund the newspaper.
Let that sink in for a moment: yes, these outraged students are demanding funding be yanked from the paper, simply because they don’t like the views expressed — on its opinion page of all places.
But you might not believe what happens next.
Via Fox News:An Iraq War veteran has found himself in a First Amendment battle after taking on the Black Lives Matter movement in his role as a college newspaper columnist. Bryan Stascavage, a 30-year-old Wesleyan University student who served two tours in Iraq, penned an op-ed in the school newspaper that criticized the Black Lives Matter movement for creating an environment he believes advocates violence by spreading anti-cop hatred, and questioned the movement’s legitimacy.
“Is the movement itself actually achieving anything positive?” Stascavage wrote in his op-ed, “Why Black Lives Matter Isn’t What You Think,” published Sept. 14 in the Wesleyan Argus.
“It boils down to this for me: If vilification and denigration of the police force continues to be a significant portion of Black Lives Matter’s message, then I will not support the movement, I cannot support the movement. And many Americans feel the same,” Stascavage wrote.
“Is it worth another riot that destroys a downtown district? Another death, another massacre? At what point will Black Lives Matter go back to the drawing table and rethink how they are approaching the problem?” he questioned.
He said that certain actions by the movement’s extremists — like calling for more “pig” police officers to “fry like bacon” — should be condemned by the movement’s leaders.
The opinion piece unleashed a firestorm of criticism, first directed at Stascavage and later at the school newspaper and its editors. Stascavage said he’s been called a racist by students on campus, while some activists are calling on the school’s student government to defund the newspaper.
A petition demanding the Wesleyan Argus lose funding unless it meets certain demands has signatures from at least 172 students, staff and recent alumni. Signatories threatened to boycott the paper because they said it fails to “provide a safe space for the voices of students of color and we are doubtful that it will in the future.”
A “safe space for the voices of students of color”? How about providing a “safe space” for ALL voices? In fact, the newspaper’s editors-in-chief, Rebecca Brill and Tess Morgan, maintain a policy that, “The Opinion section is open to any writer who wants to share a view, whether or not the Opinion editors and the editors-in-chief agree with it.”
The petitioners are not claiming this is untrue; they’re not suggesting, for example, that the voices of students of color have not allowed. They want to boycott the paper because they’re “doubtful” of what it will do “in the future?” Have we really come to a point in the United States of America where a vocal minority are demanding a so-called free press be muzzled because one group doesn’t like what it says — and is concerned about what it might do in the future?
What’s astonishing — though I guess it shouldn’t be, considering the climate that pervades campuses, in particular, these days — is what the paper’s editors-in-chief did in response to backlash from the op-ed. They issued a lengthy statement apologizing “for the distress the piece caused the student body.” Really? God forbid something written in a newspaper — an op-ed of all things — would cause anyone distress! Perhaps the newspaper’s editors-in-chiefs need a refresher on, um, the First Amendment?
Anyone else’s head about to explode?
But before you lose all hope for our constitutional republic, the First Amendment — and this Iraq veteran — received support from a seemingly unlikely place. The university administration.
The university administration, meanwhile, defended Stascavage’s right to free speech over the weekend.
“Debates can raise intense emotions, but that doesn’t mean that we should demand ideological conformity because people are made uncomfortable,” Wesleyan University President Michael Roth wrote in a blog post along with Provost Joyce Jacobsen and Vice-President for Equity and Inclusion, Antonio Farias.
“As members of a university community, we always have the right to respond with our own opinions, but there is no right not to be offended,” said the post, titled “Black Lives Matter and So Does Free Speech.”
No right to be offended? Hey, PC police, did you hear that?
“We certainly have no right to harass people because we don’t like their views,” the administration said. “Censorship diminishes true diversity of thinking; vigorous debate enlivens and instructs.”
How about that?!
Amidst political correctness gone mad on college campuses (recall, for example, UC Berkeley’s admonition against “microaggressive” phrases like “America is the Land of Opportunity”), the Wesleyan administration response is both refreshing and encouraging.
The administration reminds us one of the core tenets of our republic is the freedom to debate openly on even — perhaps especially — controversial issues. Moreover, it calls out the hypocrisy and danger of attempts to censor — which, ironically, seem to be done in the name of “diversity,” more often than not.
Stascavage, who plans to continue writing for the paper, said the ordeal has proved a valuable learning experience.
“I have learned more in the past 10 days than I learned in three years of college,” he told FoxNews.com. “Freedom of speech is critical for democracy.”
Let’s hope a few others are learning from this example as well.