At the University of Vermont, a student who was recently accused of “explicitly racist and threatening language” against black students, as well as the university’s diversity initiatives, has been let off the hook thanks to a ruling by a judge in his favor.
The student in question was Wesley Richter, who was allegedly overheard in the library multimedia room on the phone with his mother making some rather explicit statements. However, citing a lack of probable cause, a judge ruled in his favor and ultimately sent the social justice warriors down in flames.
Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George said in an interview with WCAX: “It is what it is. We put our best case forward. The judge looked at the law. We see it differently, but that’s what the process is for.” After being asked whether or not she still thinks that it was a good idea to have filed charges against Richter, George responded, “What we allege he did, we still allege he did. It just didn’t rise to the level of a hate crime.”
The statements that Richter allegedly made on the phone while talking to his mother have not been released to the public.
Frankly, the problem here is not necessarily what the student said, but rather the ongoing effort by the social justice warriors and the progressive left to curb any speech that they deem “offensive” or “politically incorrect.” Time and time again, liberals attempt to circumvent the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to impose their own rules and restrictions on what words they consider to be appropriate, and what words they consider to be uncalled for. This attempt to regulate free speech is currently going on at virtually every level of American society, but it is perhaps most prominent on college campuses, where students feel they have a right to set the standards for what others can and cannot say.
At universities within the United Kingdom and in our own country as well, students are now creating lists of “trigger words,” which are essentially words that they consider to be hateful or even remotely offensive. In addition to creating these lists of words that are “off limits,” students are even beginning to demand that they be removed from books in university libraries. (Related: Biological language has been deemed “offensive” by Ivy Leaguers.)
As conservative politician Jo Johnson put it, there are too many “worrying” incidents of student groups trying to “stifle those who do not agree with them.” Additionally, Johnson argued that institutions have a responsibility and a duty to become more involved in student affairs to ensure that all points of view are spoken and heard, even if they are views that are considered by most to be controversial. (Related: Social justice warriors at UC-Berkeley tried to shut down a speech by conservative activist Ann Coulter, but failed.)
In order to solve this problem, the United Kingdom will soon be establishing an Office for Students, which will have the power to punish schools that don’t do enough to protect the free speech rights of their students. Punishments could come in the form of hefty fines or even deregistration, which would essentially render the university unable to operate. Perhaps the United States should introduce our own “Office of Students” in order to defend the freedom of speech from social justice warriors seeking to do away with it.
Most people would agree that hate speech and racist language is not something that any society should tolerate. However, the way to solve the problem of hate speech is not by infringing on the God-given rights of the people; rather, there must be a healthy balance between discouraging inappropriate language and respecting the First Amendment. Otherwise, our freedoms will disappear before our very eyes, and once that happens, it will be nearly impossible to reverse course.