On many college campuses and high schools, students are withholding their thoughts in fear of being punished by their professors in the classroom and administrators on campus. The frequency of offense is increasing, the threshold of conservative opinion necessary for class outrage is decreasing and the punishments are growing ever more severe. This type of intolerance has left many on the right suspended, fired, and penalized for expressing their views, far more than mere ostracization by peers.
Lindsay Shepherd, the Teachers Assistant at a Canadian University, incurred mass fury after showing a three minute video of Dr. Jordan Peterson in a debate about gender-neutral pronouns. Shepherd was scrutinized as transphobic by faculty and the school administration went so far as to accuse her of breaking two Human Rights Codes in Canada. A self-proclaimed leftist, Shepherd was trying to offer up a different point of view to prompt critical discussion. In the past, professors got flack for taking a firmly conservative stance; Shepard nearly lost her job only for encouraging an open mind to dissenting opinions.
In another instance, California high school teacher Julianne Benzel decided to have a thought-provoking discussion on the day of the student walkouts to protest gun violence. Benzel asked the class if they thought the walkout would be allowed if they were instead protesting abortion. Benzel said the conversation was respectful, though lively, with most agreeing that there should not be such a double standard.
The school administration, however, did not see it that way and put Benzel on leave. Benzel was doing nothing more than challenging her class to a small discussion about a different viewpoint. It wasn’t out of line, incendiary, or too controversial according to the students, but the administration still took action against her.
The social stigmatization is even now affecting high schoolers. Jacob Shoemaker, a student from Hilliard, had the choice of either participating in the walkout or going to the study hall. Shoemaker said that if he participated in the walkout, others would view it as support for gun control, and if he went to the study hall, support for gun violence. He chose instead to remain in his classroom, trying to stay neutral on the issue. The administration promptly suspended him.
These students and educators have been discriminated against merely for challenging the status quo to attempt real, open dialogue. Hampering free speech through suppression, safe spaces, and other oppressive means is contradictory to education and is not productive for a healthy society. Parents, members of Congress, teachers, and others need to encourage Freedom of Speech on campus without the fear of their voices being silenced.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.