The term “snowflakes” is often used to describe overly sensitive and easily offended millennials who don’t know how to handle the realities of the real world. But if you’ve ever wondered why there are so many snowflakes on high school and college campuses today, look no further than the New York Times, which recently advocated for the suppression of free speech rights because – ready for this one? – words can do physical harm.
In his September 22 article, columnist Thomas Fuller sets up his lengthy anti-free speech rant by complaining about a recent event that was going to be held at UC Berkeley (but got cancelled thanks to insecure liberal protestors) called “free speech week,” which was going to feature right wing speakers like Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos. Fuller notes that the university was forced to spend nearly $100,000 on security for the event, as if that was the fault of the speakers coming to the school and not the fault of the overly sensitive students who can’t handle any challenging ideas or political opposition.
“At Berkeley, there are both unequivocal voices championing the importance of free speech, no matter how inflammatory, and professors who say lines need to be drawn on campuses,” Fuller explained. “These professors argue that the First Amendment needs to be reassessed for reasons that include the rise of Internet trolling and cyberbullying and that some scientific research now shows that hateful speech can cause physical pain.”
Let’s address this ridiculous statement on multiple levels. First, assuming that some professors at UC Berkeley really do believe that the First Amendment needs to be reassessed because of Internet trolling and cyberbullying, how exactly would this be done? Would congressional democrats go through the lengthy process of introducing an amendment to the Constitution by gaining two-thirds support from the House and Senate and three-fourths of the states? Or would they “reassess” the First Amendment by ramming their new interpretation of it down our throats, sort of like they did with Obamacare or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program? (Related: The time has come to officially end the war on free speech.)
Second, as serious of an issue as cyberbullying is, why does the fact that hurtful words are sometimes sent across the Internet automatically mean that we need a “reassessment” of the First Amendment and the freedom of speech? By that logic, we should also reassess the freedom of religion because of potentially violent religious extremists in this country, reassess the freedom to assemble because some protests get out of hand, and reassess the Second Amendment because some people use guns to kill innocent people. As the country that is rooted in individual liberty and self-governance, we shouldn’t be so quick to surrender our God-given constitutional rights for trivial reasons.
Third, how exactly does hateful speech cause physical pain? Emotional pain is certainly understandable, but the idea that words can lead to real, physical pain just sounds like something that you’d hear coming from a liberal professor or a left wing media outlet like, well, the New York Times. (Related: The Washington Post hides behind the First Amendment to publish fake news while at the same time calling for an end to free speech for conservatives.)
Despite the left’s utter contempt for the Constitution and the freedom of speech, the central problem here is that young people like the students at UC Berkeley need to be taught how to engage with people who hold viewpoints that are different from their own. As it stands right now, most left-leaning millennials turn into rabid dogs the second they hear the word “conservative” or “republican,” and immediately look for ways to shut down the opposition. If they think that they can get away with this sort of behavior in the real world once they grow up and graduate from college, then they’ve got another thing coming.