Editor’s note: This article is in response to The Badger Herald’s features editor Teymour Tomsyck’s Jan. 31 story.
Dear Mr. Tomsyck,
This letter is in regards to your recent feature discussing conservative voices on a liberal campus. As someone who considers themselves a political independent and enjoys hearing and debating with a wide variety of viewpoints, I appreciated the nuance with which you described the state of intellectual hegemony on campus.
Conservative students say pressure from predominantly liberal peers, faculty can be stiflingSpeaking up in the classroom can sometimes be daunting, but for conservative students like Kennedy Borman, social pressures from predominantly Read…
But I was confused by your closing. You mentioned the outspoken student protest of conservative pundit Ben Shapiro, and included a quote from one of the organizers, yet fell just short of drawing the obvious conclusion: that attempting to “shut down” Shapiro’s event was a flagrant transgression of his right to be here, and more importantly, the right of campus group Young Americans for Freedom to host him.
Conservative pundit Ben Shapiro lectures to turbulent crowd on safe spaces, freedom of speechConservative public speaker Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief for DailyWire.com and host of The Ben Shapiro Show, spoke at the University of Read…
However righteous the intent of the protesters, they ought to realize their actions constituted a form of censorship, the kind that prevents real debate and stifles the intellectual atmosphere on campus.
Lest I close without making myself fully clear, I also believe the protest did more to harm the progressive cause than to help it.
My first issue is this: describing Shapiro as a white supremacist or hate-monger, as the protesters did, is an abuse of hyperbole that artificially limits the ideological spectrum.
If the Jewish, anti-“alt-right” Ben Shapiro is portrayed as a crusader for the white cause, how are we to understand a true bigot like presidential chief strategist Steven Bannon?
Shapiro is obnoxious, but Bannon is gruesome.
We need to reserve our strongest condemnations for the truly villainous, or the activist-left will prematurely find itself out of ammunition.
Secondly, what will be the consequences of disallowing those who pass for moderate on the right to even state their case?
The answer lies with the extremist who just laughed his way to the White House on a wave of voters who, rightfully or wrongly, feel unheard and excluded by a liberal mainstream.
Shouting down an essentially credible pundit, no matter how provocative, is nothing but counterproductive and harmful.
Conservative, liberal student organizations denounce ‘alt-right’ movementIn a moment of unity on the University of Wisconsin campus, student organizations from both the liberal and conservative camps have Read…
I would suggest this to people considering similar forms of protest in the future: if passionate sentiments cannot be expressed respectfully, they can at least be expressed intelligently.
If your cause is truly better, it will withstand reasoned debate. If you have to resort to censorship, you’ve lost the argument.
To Tomsyck, thank you for your willingness to challenge the status quo on campus and make room for a greater diversity of voices.
I’m looking forward to reading more quality journalism from you in the near future.
Wilder Deitz ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in social welfare with a certificate in French.