Classic liberalism is supposed to stand up for free speech and other basic civil liberties. More and more, however, it seems that “progressive” policies are as far away from true liberal beliefs as possible.
This is especially true on college campuses. Not that long ago, they were bastions of diversity and different views, where students were encouraged to speak their minds civilly and interact with people with a variety of beliefs.
Those days are gone — at least if the views held by a student happen to be conservative or Christian.
Case in point: A young woman in Wisconsin is now suing her college after she was chastised as a “disruptive student” and harassed by campus security.
Her “crime?” She was handing out well-meaning cards. With loving messages. On Valentine’s Day.
You just can’t make this up. “Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) student Polly Olsen is suing her school for what she termed an ‘unconstitutional’ Public Assembly Policy,” reported Campus Reform.
While Olsen got in trouble with the school for handing out heart-shaped cards with positive messages back in February, her lawsuit was officially filed on Tuesday after the school refused to back down.
By now, you might have heard about so-called “free speech zones” at colleges throughout America. A fairly tiny box — isn’t all of America a free speech zone? — is where campus authorities demanded the young woman stand instead of handing out her warm-hearted cards around campus.
“Olsen described the school’s ‘free speech zone’ as ‘about the size of two buses next to each other,’ highlighting the fact that no one ‘congregates there, they just walk through,’ something she suggested prohibited her from having meaningful conversations with others,” continued Campus Reform.
It might be easier to see the publicly-funded college’s point of view if Olsen were some radical shouting hateful or edgy chants. But no. Her actual intent was to spread love and acceptance around campus on a holiday that’s supposed to be dedicated to exactly that.
“The student said that the past few years have been hard, as her mom died and her brother broke his neck, while Olsen, herself, has been homeless,” reported Campus Reform.
“(S)he was handing out heart-shaped valentines with phrases such as ‘Jesus loves you,’ ‘you are special!’ and ‘you have a purpose,’ along with the relevant books and line numbers,” the report continued.
Olsen said that a college security guard confronted her and took her to the security office, where officials told her that she could only hand out the hand-made cards in the tiny “free speech area.”
We should probably also mention that even this restrictive zone requires pre-approval and registration to use, making the policy even more ridiculous.
“NWTC thinks that they have the right to prohibit this freedom,” Olsen explained to Campus Reform about her legal complaint. She called the college’s approach “unconstitutional, dogmatic, and not what education is about.”
She has a very strong point. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to imagine a publicly-funded college getting away with harassing non-Christian students in a similar manner.
Think of the uproar if a friendly Hindu student was stopped from handing out positive cards with uplifting phrases that mirrored their beliefs, or an agnostic student was harassed by campus security for giving out cards with quotes from well-known philosophers.
There’s a clear double standard here, and it certainly feels like it’s getting worse. The once-common liberal defense of open mindedness is disappearing fast, and it’s now conservatives who are leading the charge for freedom of expression in academia.
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