The Folly of Free Speech

Jack F. Mourouzis responds to the Blue Lives Matter incident.

Jack F. Mourouzis responds to the Blue Lives Matter incident.

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

The plight of the liberal arts campus has been well documented in recent years. The brute ideological force of the left has supplanted even moderate reason and replaced it with inflammatory rhetoric, pushing tensions amongst students to, at times, violent levels. We at the College have found ourselves at the center of several such incidents, beginning first several years ago with the storming of President Hanlon’s office, and most recently drawing scrutiny with the Black Lives Matter library protests in November of 2015. Now, tensions have reached a boiling point again, further sowing discord amongst the brothers and sisters of Dartmouth and adding a new blemish to the reputation and history of Dartmouth College.

On May 13, the College Republicans erected a display in the main hall of the Collis Center, commemorating the upcoming National Police Week. The College Republicans’ display included statistics on violence against law enforcement and openly displayed the slogan “Blue Lives Matter.” Within hours of its appearance, students, many of whom are affiliated with Dartmouth’s own Black Lives Matter movement, elected to tear down the original display and replace the posters with a message of their own: “You cannot co-opt the movement against state violence to memorialize its perpetrators. #blacklivesmatter.” Later, smaller papers were posted around the Collis Center that included photographs of College Republicans members emblazoned with the phrase “The Sons of Old Dartmouth” in a troubling ad hominem attack. After the egregious destruction of the original display, college officials prevented College Republicans from replacing the violating display with their original posters.

This, naturally, raises issues that should concern the entire student body at Dartmouth, not just regarding the suppression of freedom of speech, but also regarding double standards shown by the administration and the dangers of authoritarian ideologies held by many students at the College. Regrettably, it is not the first event that has raised these concerns, and is not likely to be the last. Regardless, we at the Review hold the utmost disdain for such actions, as their implications are indeed destructive for all parties involved.

One of the issues at play here is the ever-widening definition of the word ‘racism.’ Previously, this word referred to ostensible acts of discrimination or segregation, or simply put, expressing disdain for a person based on his race. In recent years, however, the definition has been twisted and contorted by left-leaning movements, being used to describe all sorts of ambiguous and amorphous ‘power structures’ and to attempt to pinpoint an underlying ‘white supremacy’ that most people fail to ever understand. On this day, we have learned that a display expressing support for law enforcement is, in fact, racist, as it, in the words of ’18 Mikala Williams, “normalizes and naturalizes violence against people of color in this country.” What Ms. Williams, along with many others sharing her viewpoints, fails to acknowledge, however, is the two-way street of racism. College Republicans in no way have expressed (a reproachable) stance in favor of police brutality towards people of color. Rather, they have sought to call attention to the issues faced by law enforcement. As an ongoing demonization of law enforcement officers persists, indeed only because of the malicious actions of a minute proportion of officers, College Republicans have sought only to debunk this stereotype. The insinuation that support for law enforcement officers is “white supremacy,” or even “normalizes and naturalizes violence against people of color,” is not only absurd, it is insulting.

This is not to say, however, that the “co-opting” of the Black Lives Matter movement was not without criticism of the movement in question. The Black Lives Matter movement fails to recognize the danger of its own ideology, one which all too often demonizes white people, law enforcement, and all those who dare to call its tenets into question. The danger lies within the ideology’s own heavy-handedness; instead of calling different groups of differing opinions together for constructive discourse, all ideas contrary to that of the ideology are silenced, branded as the enemy, and treated as such. We at the Review find this course of action reproachable. Though we admit our conservative lean, we will always stand with the side of free speech and open discourse, rather than the suppression of dissenting ideas. Rather than propagating a “race war,” as many have deemed the current situation, students should attempt to resolve issues through open campus debate – not one-sided, pontificating panel presentation – and not stoop to the level of petty vandalism.

In addition, the reaction of the administration in circumstances of strife has once again proved lackluster and troubling. Though not much was to be expected, particularly after the disappointing (and perhaps even damaging) reaction to the controversial Black Lives Matter protests in November of 2015, the egregious favoritism shown towards left-leaning groups has continued unabashed. It was first evident by the exclusion of conservative-minded students from this year’s “Inclusive Excellence” student committee, ensuring that right-leaning students would have no voice in the campaign. Theft of private property from Theta Delta Chi fraternity went unpunished. The College Republicans, in their statement on Friday evening, expressed a similar sentiment:

Even when the posters vandalizing our memorial to fallen heroes started to become personal attacks on and photographs of members of our Republican community, Dartmouth failed to act. The administration claims it will not tolerate making other students feel unsafe. However, many members of our community do not feel safe walking through the student center where photos are present. Would Parkhurst’s response to these attacks have been the same if it was the College Republicans that had put up posters deriding and targeting members of the Black Lives Matter movement? We think not.

It has been clear to Dartmouth’s conservative community that respect for conservative ideas and opinions is not valued by the administration. Similar antagonistic actions toward left-leaning students are not treated the same way when conservative students are targeted. It is not much to ask that groups of students with differing opinions be afforded the same rights across the board. Such blatant favoritism on the part of the administration cannot, in good conscience, continue. In pursuit of the College’s mission to “support the vigorous and open debate of ideas within a community marked by mutual respect,” administrators and students alike are obliged take the high road, so to speak. For the sake of future generations, we can only hope this path becomes well-worn.

  • David Vincelette

    I have been battling against the silencing of opposition ideas since the day I first was “caught” reading one of your early editions. It concerning a fellow Pittsburgher and Music Professor, David Cole, who had an interaction with two of your reporters. The controversy regarded the right of students to get and present the truth about a Professor’s words by interviewing him. Within minutes I had been deemed racist for having read from this dread “right wing racist” newspaper. That was about 32 years ago? I have been silenced, shunned and abused by the Dartmouth-Hanover complex ever since. Words are soon going to really hurt some who have hidden from them for so long. Words like truth and repentance.

    • pattymoo

      This is distressing , but familiar with all I have to say is Iam glad my kids are grown and way out of college I can’t imagine this to continue ,the libs have gone to far don’t know if it can be rebalanced but if Hillary gets in we’re done

  • piper60

    Remarkablehow little actual tolerance the devotees of the Great God Diversityactually display towards the ferenghi!