Tennessee’s Martin Daniel Gets It

In the big city, we harbor the delusion that we’re smarter, more erudite, more sophisticated than those hicks in the hinterlands.  Tennessee state representative Martin Daniel just proved us wrong. New Yorker Donald Trump didn’t help, but regardless, Daniel still schooled the big city politicians who wrap themselves up in the self-righteousness of progressivism.

What did Daniel do?  He stood up for the Constitution. These days, that’s a bold move.

When Tennessee’s lawmakers fight for the constitutional rights of the people, they should be commended, not silenced or ridiculed.

That is why Rep. Martin Daniel’s, R-Knoxville, passionate defense of Americans’ free speech rights this week was good, thoughtful and courageous.

Ironically, his bill to require public colleges in Tennessee to affirm and defend the First Amendment was derailed because of his passion.

What compelled Daniel to propose such an outrageous bill as one that would preserve free speech on campus in the face of demands for censorship?

College campuses have come under fire for creating “safe spaces” and controlling speech, especially when deemed offensive toward others.

“I am sure that each of us holds many opinions that someone, somewhere, would find wrong or offensive,” he said. “My point is that if we weaken the First Amendment by making its protection selective, based on what is currently viewed as evil or inappropriate, we are weakening its ability to protect us all.”

The Tennessean editorial calls it his “passion.”  That’s not the word I would choose, trendy though it may be.

The way he answered a fellow lawmaker’s question about whether ISIS could recruit on campus led the House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee on Wednesday to take the Tennessee Student Free Speech Protection Act “off notice,” thus removing it from consideration.

However, the ISIS question posed by Rep. John DeBerry Jr., D-Memphis, was absurd at worst and hyperbolic at best. While Daniel’s answer in the affirmative might have been naïve, his heart was in the right place.

Daniel’s response wasn’t a naïve argument, nor an argument from the heart.  This is what is meant by the marketplace of ideas, and it’s a concept that eluded Daniel’s fellow representatives. But what about the terrorists?!?  What about ISIS?!?  Beyond reducing the argument to the absurd, what they are contending is that they fear that the terrorists will have the better idea. They fear the terrorists will seize the minds of students?  They have so little faith in American ideals that ISIS will steal the little darlings right off college campuses.

House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, called the comments ridiculous.

What are these ridiculous comments?

“So long as it doesn’t disrupt the proceedings on that campus. Yes sir,” Daniel told the House Education Administration and Planning Subcommittee on Wednesday. “They can recruit people for any organization or any other cause. I think it’s just part of being exposed to differing viewpoints.”

Not that anyone seriously thinks ISIS plans to have a booth on career day.

“The remedy for disagreeable speech is not to silence that speech — it is more speech,” he said.

Daniel’s explanation is that he believes in America. He has faith that our freedoms will prevail against the terrorists’ viewpoints.  He’s not afraid that, if the constitutional right to free speech prevails on campus, ISIS will win the debate. We can maintain our constitutional rights and still win in the marketplace of ideas.

For this, he was called a terrorist sympathizer, because representative governance demands that all groups be represented, including the idiots.

Of course, Daniel’s bill had nothing to do with a pending threat of ISIS’s booth on career day, and the argument against it was a red herring.  Rather, the bill was directed to the very real problem, one that is happening openly, of rampant censorship on campus.

“I am seeing liberal college administrators impose their views of what is right and proper speech on conservative students who feel uncomfortable in disagreement. I am trying to remedy that problem,” he said. “All students should have the right to express their opinions, and that is what this bill is about.”

From administrators to the most fragile student, speech on campus is dying. Under myriad claims, from hate speech to microaggressions, the protection of free speech is under assault, as has been discussed here ad nauseam, and subject to some of the most mind-numbingly irrational social justice whining possible.

It’s not just that the proponents of mass censorship on campus fear that in the marketplace of ideas, they’ll come up “no sale,” but the claim that the mere sound of certain words is so traumatic that it will make the children cry and go running into puppy rooms to protect their delicate sensibilities.  While the Tennessean wrongly attributes Daniel’s position to passion, perhaps it’s because blind feelings have become the coin of the argument on campus, and what constitutes reason versus emotion has become so blurred that the editorial board can no longer distinguish between the two. Pathetically, this has become a pervasive problem. The rigors of thinking are too hard for the special snowflakes on campus, so they take comfort in their feelz, where no thought can ever touch them. And they then impute the same absence of thought to everyone else, because, well, that’s what happens when Sir Joshua Reynolds’ admonition is proven correct.

What’s unimaginable is that a state representative offering a bill to secure a constitutional right from attack by college administrators is controversial at all.  But if all it takes to turn the Constitution to controversy is invocation of “but ISIS!!!,” then there isn’t much to be done to prevent our college campuses from becoming hotbeds of mindless censorship.

That Martin Daniel needs to be defended for standing up for the Constitution suggests that maybe our ideals won’t prevail in the marketplace of ideas.  Certainly, no one on campus has much faith in their belief that their “social justice” agenda can bear up to scrutiny or prevail in the face of speech based on reason.


15 thoughts on “Tennessee’s Martin Daniel Gets It

  1. kenm

    Can I get an “Amen!”?

    I try not to be prejudicial, but I will admit to thinking unkind thoughts about lawmakers…this time, I was wrong. Here’s someone with a head on their shoulders, and brains they’re willing to use.

    Yes, it can be unpopular, especially today, to say that even ISIS has free speech rights in the US, but they do…and that’s what makes us special, and unique.

  2. mb

    Rep. John DeBerry Jr., D-Memphis is a moron, who uses his position to alert terrorists to the need to recruit under cover. He has, by his dumbass question given actual aid to ISIS, who might otherwise have walked right into our hands at the next rush week or campus slut walk. I am outraged that Mr. DeBerry has not yet been charged with treason.

    1. SHG Post author

      He’s being measured for a statue, to be placed in the main quad of every college campus in Tennessee.

  3. OEH

    I appreciate and support Daniel’s efforts to prevent censorship at colleges. I am a little puzzled though what he (and others) have against safe spaces.

    In my experience the majority of students (at least in technical majors) are there to crank out just enough schoolwork to get a degree so they can earn money. They have neither time for nor interest in the marketplace of ideas.

    If the school wants to designate a study room as a safe space for gay students so that the gay accounting majors can sit there and calculate interest all day, is there some reason we should begrudge them that? Is there something wrong with going to college just for the money?

    1. SHG Post author

      I can’t speak for everyone, but I am certainly fascinated by the off-topic stupid shit that puzzles you. The answer, of course, is that you don’t seem to have a clue of what’s meant by safe spaces. If a groups of kids wants to hang out together, nobody will stop them. But to dedicate a space where some students are forbidden to go because they’re not part of an identity group, or a dedicated space where students can go where they are entitled to never hear any word, thought, idea so that their delicate ears are protected from the harshness of unpleasant ideas, or a hiding place with puppies and Play-Doh to overcome the trauma of life, is anathema to the fundamental notion of what education, thought, maturity and reality is about. That’s what’s wrong, and it really shouldn’t require an explanation.

      1. OEH

        I’d say we basically agree on what a safe space is. At least as far as “a dedicated space where students can go where they are entitled to never hear any word, thought, idea so that their delicate ears are protected from the harshness of unpleasant ideas”.

        Consider Bob. He’s an oh so delicate snowflake who can’t handle the tiniest bit of confrontation. He also grew up in Belgium and the whole campus discussing the terrorist attacks is making it really hard for him to think straight. He also has an astable multivibrator timing circuit to design by Tuesday.

        What do you say to Bob? “Sorry, personal maturity takes priority over schoolwork, no exceptions”? What if he’s paying $50,000 a year to be there?

        1. SHG Post author

          I’d say we basically agree on what a safe space is.

          I’d say we don’t agree at all. Not even a little bit.

        2. Patrick Maupin

          What do you say to Bob?

          If you can’t hack school, how the heck do you expect to find a real job that will pay back that $200K?

          “Sorry, personal maturity takes priority over schoolwork, no exceptions”

          Where you see conflict, the rest of us see concordance. How is it not personal maturity to do what it takes to take care of his schoolwork?

        3. Fyodor

          I don’t understand what kind of problem you’re trying to fix-are people charging into the library and yelling at Bob about Belgium? Every residential school has quiet places to study. The problem with “safe spaces” is that they’re usually a call for the school to selectively censor disagreeable opinions in the broader community because it makes people feel “unsafe.”

  4. Mort

    because representative governance demands that all groups be represented, including the idiots.

    They appear to be vastly over-represented…

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  6. James Strom

    You’ve got to be ready for dumb questions that will almost certainly come your way. Recruiting on campus goes well beyond free speech and into giving material assistance to terrorists. So it’s quite possible to honor the free speech rights of terrorists without encouraging recruitment. Secondly, actual terrorists would be reluctant to declare themselves as such on campus, because they would be begging for an investigations of possible crimes separate from their exercise of free speech. So, protection of free speech on campus would usually only open the door to speakers who want to make a hypothetical case for the views of the terrorists. The dangers suggested by this question lie mostly on someone’s fervid imagination.

    1. SHG Post author

      It wasn’t that the question raised serious concerns about terrorists recruiting on campus. Obviously, that wouldn’t happen, both because terrorists don’t put up booths about being terrorists and because of other federal laws prohibiting aid to terrorism.

      Rather, the question used the rhetorical device of hyperbole to make a point about the dangers of unrestrained free speech. Daniel’s confronted the point head on. But like so many theoretical points, it was reduced to the silly concrete rather than understood as an exaggerated hypothetical.

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