Instead of disinviting controversial speakers, college administrators should model civil disagreement for students, say Ben Shapiro and Adam Carolla.
Shapiro, editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire, and Carolla, a comedian and radio host, testified Thursday before a joint subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on campus challenges to free speech.
“You can’t put students in a bubble and expect them to come out stronger,” said Carolla of administrators who disinvite or obstruct speakers in response to student protests.
Shapiro had a similar take, saying, “a healthy nation requires a population ready to engage in open debate at any time.”
The hearing, the second in a series of subcommittee panels highlighting First Amendment issues, occurred amid increasing tensions on campuses over free speech. Shapiro, who has encountered multiple speech obstructions at college campuses, was disinvited from speaking at California State University, Los Angeles last May due to what the university called “threats and expressions of fear.”
University administrators later agreed to host Shapiro.
In an op-ed published on The Daily Signal prior to the hearing, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, wrote that “many colleges and universities in our great country have reversed course and are now using their power to suppress free speech on campus.”
Speaking against what Shapiro called the “club” of hate speech used by campus administrators to “silence” those with whom they disagree, Carolla and Shapiro encouraged faculty and staff members at public universities to respond to student activism by engaging potentially offensive and controversial speakers.
Rather than prosecuting hate speech, which Shapiro called “undefined,” Shapiro said institutions should introduce ramifications for those interested in “shutting down the debate.” Shapiro voiced support for suspensions and other retributive measures following violent protests.
Carolla encouraged administrators to refrain from acquiescing to protester demands. “We need the adults to start being the adults,” he said. “Children are the future, but we are the present.”
Right now, Shapiro said, professors should teach students to move beyond what he termed the “philosophy of intersectionality,” which he says ranks a view based on the presenter’s “level of victimization in American society” instead of the quality of the view itself.
Shapiro attributes violence surrounding campus speakers to this philosophy and its conclusion that, Shapiro said, “words you don’t like ought to be fought physically.”
Disagreement, he said, can happen, even at an administrative level, but should be civil and rooted in the argument itself.
“All of our views should be judged on their merits, and should never be banned on the grounds that they offend someone.”
Watch Shapiro and Carolla testify here.