Giving all voices platforms to speak

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Graphic by Fani Hseih
Graphic by Fani Hseih

In late May, controversy erupted over conservative political pundit Milo Yiannopoulos’s “Dangerous Faggot” tour at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois in which he gave a speech he calls “Feminism is Cancer.”

During his presentation, two student activists by the name of Kayla Johnson and Edward Ward, associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, walked onto the stage and snatched the microphone from the interview.

One of the activists used a whistle whenever Milo spoke and one threatened to punch Milo, as well. The speech was later cancelled due to the disruption.

The event was organized by the DePaul College Republicans, who were charged an extra security fee prior to the event. Reports have suggested that the administration told the security to stand down when the activists came on to the stage.

A sociology professor by the name of Ada Cheng resigned in response to this event, saying: “to believe that universities are simply neutral platforms for “equal” exchanges of ideas, the so-called free speech rooted in the market ideology, is delusional.”

Situations like these really pique my interest.

As someone who goes to a university and writes for an opinion section of a university paper, I really hope my ability to speak freely is not compromised in the near future. Situations like these pose many intellectually stimulating questions.

For example, should a person who is viewed as dangerous and unsafe in the eyes of a certain group of people be given a platform in which to speak? Should a university administration be completely neutral in the distribution of ideas?

I am of the belief that any potentially dangerous ideology should be given a voice on a university campus.

By taking this position, I obviously do not agree with the actions that the activists implemented. To go to an event that was painstakingly organized and to act in such a manner for the sake of silencing a differing opinion is, in my opinion, egregious and completely antithetical to what I believe a university should be about.

Every person in every position should be able to speak their rhetoric and counter, than have them not speak at all.

When ideas are challenged and put through the proverbial fire, they are forged into great initiators of positive change, ready to tackle the world beyond academia and more importantly, enrich the worldview of all who pass through the halls of a university. Those who pass through are our future political leaders, our future business people, our future voters, our future parents, so on and so forth.

The ability to come to one’s own conclusions about different issues and share opinions without the threat of censorship is integral for this process to happen.

If someone said something ignorant, bigoted or filled with hatred, I would hope that we, as a community of students, as well as all other university communities, would respond with wit, eloquence and logic, all while respecting their right to say it.


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