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.