Brown students: Supporting free speech 'explicitly dangerous'
The letter declares that Benson's support for free speech is "explicitly dangerous to...marginalized people," arguing that free speech only benefits those "who hold privileged identities."
Eighteen Brown University students recently signed an open letter vehemently objecting to an appearance by conservative commentator Guy Benson Tuesday night.
Students at Brown University vehemently objected to a speech by conservative pundit Guy Benson, saying he enables “white supremacist and fascist ideas” by supporting free speech.
The 18 students, calling themselves “A Collective of Students at Brown University,” wrote an open letter slamming Benson’s appearance at Brown Tuesday night, even preemptively arguing that the event violates the Student Code of Conduct.
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The letter first attacks Benson’s support for freedom of speech, specifically referencing his view that hate speech should not be limited by the government.
“Based on our research into the speaker, we anticipate that Benson will make arguments in support of the freedom of any person to make hateful, oppressive, or damaging remarks based on their constitutionally protected right to free speech,” the students fume.
They then contend that the event is an insult to the history of student activism at Brown, declaring that they “will not stand idly by as our proud history of student activism is belittled and the real emotional, physical, and psychological needs of marginalized students are denigrated as illogical and irrelevant.”
The letter goes on to say that the “conversation” surrounding free speech is “explicitly dangerous to the well-being and continued thriving of people of color and other marginalized people.”
[RELATED: Tufts students say Ben Shapiro’s views put them in ‘danger’]
“So often, popular conversations around free speech focus on the right of people with power or who hold privileged identities (i.e. who are white, or cisgender men, or wealthy, or able bodied, etc.) to espouse hateful rhetoric which actively makes others less safe,” the students assert. “Rarely do these mainstream conversations on free speech consider the urgent need for people of color and other marginalized people to speak back against systems of oppression for their own self-preservation.”
The students even cite the Brown University Student Code of Conduct, despite acknowledging that it is “a document which we continue to question,” saying that “according to section XI of the Code of Student Conduct, Brown University students cannot support ‘behavior that is intended to or can reasonably be expected to result in significant emotional or psychological harm.’”
The speech, however, went “quite well,” according to a tweet by Benson, who praised the “great crowd, fun experience, and solid questions—especially from students who don’t share my views.”
Benson did note that there was apparently a walkout by “a handful of students,” but said he didn’t even notice.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @asabes10