Education

Biden Is Right and Kasich Is Wrong on Campus Free Speech

Joe Biden speaks at Harvard University in May. (Reuters photo: Brian Snyder)
Who wants to live in a country where the government gets to decide what kind of speech is and is not okay?

During a “Bridging the Divides” forum at the University of Delaware on Tuesday, former vice president Joe Biden and Ohio governor John Kasich were asked about free speech on college campuses — and Biden had the far better answer.

“Liberals have a short memory . . . we hurt ourselves badly when we don’t allow speech to take place,” Biden said, according to a tweet from former CNN reporter Peter Hamby. “You should be able to listen to another point of view, as virulent as it may be, and reject it or expose it.”

Kasich’s answer? That he wouldn’t “let one of these hate speech speakers come.”

That was the wrong answer. Sure, Kasich may have been trying to come off as Sensitive Moderate Republican Guy, but he really came off as someone who doesn’t understand the responsibility that we all have as people who live in a country where our speech is free.

On the one hand, Kasich just may not understand how many people college students have tried to silence because they considered their views to be “hate speech” for a whole host of reasons. For example: Just last month, students at Berkeley tried to silence conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, claiming that he’s a “white supremacist.” (Note: Ben Shapiro is an Orthodox Jew.)

On the other hand, though, is this: It doesn’t f&*%$#@ matter what a speaker says. As Biden said, students should be able to handle hearing all speech — even “virulent” speech — and know how to “reject it or expose it” if necessary. After all, that’s how it works in the real world.

Yep. Believe it or not, there actually are people out there in the real world who say hateful things. What’s more, they actually do have a constitutional right to say them, which means that anyone who gets offended cannot choose to deal with that offense by silencing it. They have to know how to deal with it in other ways, and we should be allowing students to practice and develop these skills while in school rather than forcing them to live in a bubble that stunts that kind of growth.

Believe it or not, there actually are people out there in the real world who say hateful things.

The truth is, we live in a place where hate speech is protected speech — and we’re very, very lucky that’s the case.

The alternative, after all, is living in a country where the government gets to decide what kind of speech is and is not okay . . . and you don’t have to be a constitutional scholar to see how that would be a bad thing.

READ MORE:

Trump vs. the First Amendment

Conservatives, Get Real with Yourselves and Denounce Trump’s Attacks on the Press

College Students vs. Free Speech

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter at National Review Online.

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