Nuggets of Wisdom

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Anti-Free Speech is Anti-Education

Nearly two years ago, a 30-year-old Hinds Community College (HCC) student was talking with his friend outside class where he complained about his exam grade: "this grade is going to f*** up my entire GPA."

He didn't drop the f-bomb during a class presentation. He didn't hurl it as an insult against a professor or other college official. He merely said it in a private conversation with his friend.

And yet this f-bomb, uttered in ear-shot of his professor, nearly cost this struggling father of two his academic career.

His professor reprimanded him for cursing and threatened him with detention--even though colleges don't have detention.

The professor filed a complaint, causing the student to be kicked out of his class, and costing him his financial aid eligibility.

His whole life would have been ruined had the Foundation For Individual Rights In Education not intervened with a lawsuit on his behalf.

This is hardly an isolated incident. The organization who represented this student, FIRE, monitors the negative effects of college speech codes across the country, and how they penalize students for "offending" others with their speech. As this and other students can testify, merely uttering something "politically incorrect" can jeopardize their entire college career.

This is why I stand by my statement yesterday that our public education system is designed for indoctrination rather than education. You cannot have education without the free exchange of ideas. Only when students are exposed to opposing viewpoints can they make a well-informed conclusion for themselves.

When you try to protect them from ideas or opinions that may offend their sensitive feelings, you protect them from gaining knowledge that may challenge their worldview and force them to critically-evaluate it. You cannot have education and political correctness. When you limit speech through censorship, then you no longer have education, you have indoctrination.

And yet people like me who point this out are considered "anti-education" and "anti-intellectual." No. Hypersensitive PC-Nazis who demand that education be limited to their bigoted, narrow-minded worldview are "anti-education" and "anti-intellectual."

You cannot have education without free speech, even if that free speech offends you. No one has the right not to be offended. Sometimes being educated requires you to be offended. As a wise person once said: "The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off."

And on that sentiment, here is an excellent video by Penn and Teller on free speech and education: