I’ve written before about the growing intolerance for free speech on campus, including from commencement speakers. It’s a problem that seems to be getting worse, not better — and more people are starting to notice and push back.
Two recent articles address the issue and are worth reading. One is a more straightforward evaluation of the issue by Tim Egan in the New York Times. The other is a satirical treatment in the form of a mock commencement address by Stephen Carter, a law professor at Yale University. The Carter piece, especially, raises a compelling question: since when have callow college students come to view themselves as such infallible know-it-alls — and what will it mean for their future? If they aren’t willing to entertain competing viewpoints during their college years, what will they be like at age 40, or 50?
Fortunately, my view of the world and my role in it continued to change and evolve after I graduated from college, as I interacted with others, saw how things worked in practice, and added years of life experiences to my perspective. I’d like to think that process made me a better, more mature, and more thoughtful person. That’s why it’s sad, and also frightening, to think that closed-minded college students might be walling themselves off from views and information that would allow them to make the same kind of personal journey. If these college students are so cocksure about the correctness of their politics now, how insufferable will they be later — and how much more willing to take steps to prevent even the presentation of competing views?