Student leaders at Concordia College in Moorhead have censored prominent conservative speaker Ben Shapiro.
Specifically, they have voted to rescind funding for Shapiro’s speech which had previously been approved back in November as my colleagues Kim Hyatt and Patrick Springer report in the Fargo Forum.
The cost of the speech was $7,080. A vote of the student government last night rescinded that funding after protesters on campus claimed Shapiro engages in hateful speech.
To put that decision in context, the College paid left wing activist Shaun King to speak on campus in January.
It is absolutely true to say that Shapiro is a provocative and even polarizing speaker. But then, so is King.
What person expressing a point of view on sticky subjects like politics and social issues isn’t?
“SGA vice president Will Kuball said the association is working with Young Americans for Freedom to find a more suitable speaker,” the Forum reports, adding that “free speech doesn’t mean hate speech.”
Except, free speech does mean hate speech sometimes. The Ku Klux Klan has the same right to peacefully assemble and communicate as the Democratic Party does. Or your local weatherman.
What good is the 1st amendment if it doesn’t protect the most controversial forms of speech? Which isn’t to say that Shapiro is the rhetorical equivalent of the Klan.
He’s not. But you get my point.
Some of you might argue that this isn’t censorship. That the student government, as an organization, isn’t censoring if they’re merely choosing not to subsidize.
I disagree. Favoring certain political viewpoints over others is an act of suppression.
Shapiro could still speak for free. Organizers of his event could find some other funding source. They could even choose a venue off campus.
But none of those alternatives addresses the fact that Shapiro’s speech was treated differently than that of other speakers because of his politics.
That’s censorship, and any defense of it is itself indefensible.