All-star panel examines 'organized neurosis' of PC campuses

  • The attack on free speech on America’s college campuses was dubbed an “organized neurosis” Tuesday at a panel discussion at George Washington University.
  • Christina Hoff Sommers, David Rubin, and Steve Simpson headlined the panel, which explored the phenomenon of using political correctness to silence conservative thought on college campuses.

The attack on free speech on America’s college campuses was dubbed an “organized neurosis” Tuesday at a panel discussion at George Washington University.

The event, featuring American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Christina Hoff Sommers and host of the Rubin Report Dave Rubin, examined the downfall of free speech on America’s college campuses, asking attendees to consider why students stopped believing in the First Amendment.

Hoff Sommers and Rubin were joined by Steve Simpson, Director of Legal Studies at the Ayn Rand Institute, which co-sponsored the event with the school’s Young Americans for Liberty chapter.

The event, “Express Yourself or Suppress Yourself,” examined how college campuses have become hostile to diverse viewpoints, prompting Rubin to observe that defending free speech often involves defending the right to express ideas that may make some people “uncomfortable.”

[RELATED: UMass Amherst students throw temper tantrum at free speech event]

Although the panelists agreed that “political correctness” has been running amok on college campuses, they each took slightly different approaches in addressing the issue.

Simpson mostly talked about the problem philosophically, pointing out for instance that while students tend to use the word “Islamophobia” to denote a form of racism, “Islam is a belief system,” and like all belief systems it is subject to evaluation.

He also stressed the need for conservatives to be empowered with facts and speak up to defend Western and Enlightenment values, such as reason, against the impulse toward "tribalism" and "group warfare.”

Hoff Sommers, drawing on more than 20 years’ experience as a college professor, remarked that such concerns are not merely idle speculation, but have already begun to materialize in the form of “anti-fascist” groups and other leftists whose rhetoric, and in some cases behavior, promotes actual violence against conservatives.

[RELATED: Safe spaces a ‘recipe for fanaticism,’ Hoff Sommers claims]

Like Simpson, Hoff Sommers called for students whose views have been repressed by their peers to speak out.

The panel also discussed recent campus incidents, like at the University of California, Berkeley and Middlebury College, involving controversial speakers such as former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos and Sommers’ AEI colleague Charles Murray, respectively.

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Jackson Richman
Jackson Richman | Contributor at Washington Examiner

Jackson Richman is a Contributor for the Washington Examiner. Prior to this role, he was a D.C. Campus Correspondent covering liberal bias and abuse for Campus Reform. He is a graduate of George Washington University.

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