“Free Speech” on College Campuses

Tabitha Walter

Tabitha Walter

Recently, Tabitha Walter, Eagle Forum’s Executive Director of the Washington, D.C. office gave a commencement speech to graduates at the Leadership Institute. She addressed the issue of free speech on college campuses. Here is an excerpt from her speech:

“Emotions are not equal to facts. Today’s culture tends to celebrate emotions. When we watch a show, listen to a story, or look at a work of art, we want to feel something. When we go through tragedy or celebrate life, emotions are just natural. God created us to have emotions. There are plenty of scriptures that even explain the emotions of God. However, when it comes to facts, emotions can skew your view.

“Think of the ideology of pro-choice activists. It’s a campaign purely driven by fear. Fear that a woman wouldn’t be able to raise a child because of singleness, finances, or career goals. Then when they go through with it, society tells them that they should feel proud, but so many times, they are driven into depression. The truth is that there are more resources now, more than ever, to help mothers achieve their goals. And when you talk to mothers who kept their children, they will say it was the best decision they have ever made.

“Many of you have heard of a recently coined title, Social Justice Warrior. They pride themselves on saving mankind, I mean womankind, I mean… you know what I’m trying to say, from “harmful forces” like the patriarchy, white privilege, and religious oppression. Essentially, they are angry about everything.

“Did you know that more than 100 colleges are offering undergraduate or graduate degrees in social justice? This may be the worst career path since women’s studies. These programs mandate students to participate in left-wing causes while learning about a slew of highly-skewed problems such as heterosexism, institutional racism, and environmental harm. They are essentially being trained to be full-time protestors.

“That is just one of the many absurd career paths or courses you can take. Others include Queering God: Feminist and Queer Theology (as it pertains to God), White People, Black Hair Politics, and Saints and Sexuality, to name a few. Keep in mind, someone is paying for these classes, and many times, it’s our taxpayer money.

“What they aren’t being taught is American history. Otherwise, they would know why the United States fought against destructive ideologies such as communism, Marxism, and socialism. Our founders sought true freedom as outlined in our Constitution. Those freedoms do not stop once you cross the threshold of a college campus.

“After all of this foolishness, be encouraged, because we are winning.

“So far, nine states have banned free speech areas. That may seem like a low number, but keep in mind, free speech zones are a fairly new concept. We are seeing more and more of these bills cropping up in legislative sessions.

“The Department of Justice has been on a roll with filing Statements of Interest in several free speech cases. One case is Speech First v. Schlissel. This was filed against the University of Michigan whose speech policies prohibit and punish speech. The University also created a “Bias Response Team” who harassed students for wearing Make America Great Again hats. Since then, the University made the necessary updates to their policy.

“One notable case I would like to point out on free speech is Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. A cake baker by the name Jack Phillips runs a bakery in Colorado. When a gay couple asked him to bake a cake for their wedding ceremony, Jack gently explained that he couldn’t because of his beliefs. He explained that this isn’t the only event he wouldn’t make a cake for. He also didn’t make cakes for Halloween, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and so on. But the couple complained to the Civil Rights Commission and the Commission forced Jack to re-educate his staff on LGBT issues and was told that he could no longer refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding.

“The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in Jack’s favor. Now this may not directly deal with campus free speech, but could certainly have wide-spread effects on those kinds of situations, like forced participation in events that students may morally object to.

“The solutions to this free speech problem are fairly simple. This is every American’s First Amendment right regardless of where you are standing. Colleges and Universities must uphold our Constitution. They can do this by creating policies that reaffirm the Constitution by allowing every student to speak freely and demonstrate peacefully anywhere on campus. Congress has already acted on this by introducing a resolution (H. Res. 307) that does just that. It is still in the House, but actions have been taken to put the language in upcoming education bills.

“One of the simplest solutions though, is you. You can fight to speak freely and lead by example. You must seek out opposing views, people who live different lives than you, and good, old-fashioned research from both sides. These interactions will exercise your mind and teach you how to have civil discourse. Choose to be a happy warrior. Phyllis Schlafly could always speak the truth bluntly, but with a smile. Others are more inclined to hear what you have to say when you can be calm, yet passionate about your view.”

Tabitha Walter
D.C. Executive Director, Eagle Forum