Those who suppress the speech of others often see themselves not as censors but as noble individuals committing heroic acts in pursuit of justice. Last week Arün Smith, a student at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, destroyed a free speech wall set up by the campus’ Students For Liberty group. This might seem like nothing new to regular readers of The Torch. But this particular case of vandalism stands out in one major way: Mr. Smith decided publicly to assume the mantle of “Heroic Censor” by congratulating himself in an open letter for acting on a “moral imperative” to protect “marginalized communities,” as he put it.
In an op-ed published today on Forbes.com, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff explains why Smith, and all those who cast themselves ian the role of Heroic Censor, are simply wrong. While censorship in the form of vandalism in pursuit of some “moral imperative” might seem rational to this crowd, as Greg relates in his op-ed, it is not:
The romanticization of the censor is, at its heart, anti-rational. To Smith, it does not matter that the group sponsoring the free speech wall supported gay rights, including gay marriage, or that universities have traditionally been at the vanguard of supporting the rights of LGBT students, or that the student government itself was sponsoring a gay pride week. Smith was taking advantage of an implicit rule of politically correct morality that has become commonplace on and, increasingly, off campus: when someone grandstands, it is considered bad form to question the content or coherence of the grandstander’s message and, instead, you are expected to applaud his or her emotional vigor.
Check out the rest of Greg’s op-ed at Forbes.com.