Relishing spirited discussion but promoting open dialogue with those whose views differ from our own is upheld as basic to democracy if not intellectual inquiry. For this reason, free speech on campus was traditionally celebrated or at least upheld as a basic right. Not so much today.
College is not just a disinterested dispenser of information and skills; colleges also cultivate group think indoctrination in current ideology. Perhaps the best evidence of this mind meld-like hold on college students' intellectual faculties is seen in the lengths college administrators go to in order to silence dissension and the willingness of students to go along. The University of Cincinnati, in fact, claims they do not exist to provide a free speech forum, as noted in this analysis of campus censorship by a group called FIRE(Foundation for Individual Rights Education):
Georgetown University recently held a "Coming Out" day on campus, and the conservative group TFP (Tradition, Family, Property) who filmed their interaction with them was asked to leave. In the TFP video, it is clear the university administrator prefers to silence rather than allow dialogue with those holding conservative views. Likewise, the student newspaper fails to question the reason for TFP's presence on campus, and in fact essentially falls in line with the university's censorship of the conservative group. Given the power base, those who utter conservative views are asked by the administration to leave, escorted off campus, or relegated to small peripheral "free speech zones" away from the actual public square.
Although tagged and posted as "News," the campus Vox Populi article appears to be an an echo chamber for the administration's liberal viewpoint rather than a voice of all the people, since the Catholic position is not represented even on this ostensibly Catholic campus. Instead, reporter Isabel Echarte's news story "Yet Another Conservative, Catholic Group Thinks Georgetown Isn't Catholic Enough" ridicules the video as tiresome, juvenile, and not worthy of response.
Admittedly, the title of TFP's video, "The Smoke of Satan at Georgetown University on Coming Out Day" is over the top, intended to provoke viewership. Yet, the Vox article further criticizes the video maker's right to question those celebrating homosexuality on a Catholic university.
Indeed, Vox Populi does little to serve as a voice representing alternate viewpoints. Rather than examine the conservative position, Echarte belittles TFP for using "philosophical jargon." While the video includes three phrases referencing Catholic doctrine, these are necessary to understand Catholic teaching. Those taking classes on a Catholic college campus should presumably be aware of such "jargon" or be willing, as college students, to grapple with the terms.
Above: A free speech wall ripped down by students, suggesting students are becoming intolerant of opposing viewpoints.
Of the phrases that could be construed as "philosophical jargon," two are introduced by a "Coming Out" day spokesperson: "hierarchy," and "individual revelation." The term "hierarchy" is typically used to malign Church leadership, the media often suggesting that an all-male leadership can't possibly understand any sexual choices other than celibacy. This may be the way the "Coming Out" spokesperson uses the word, since "hierarchy" is paired with "individual revelation," seeming to contrast the terms.
Actually, the Church sets in contrast "private" as opposed to "public" revelation, in order to distinguish scripture from ongoing claims of miraculous events or experiences, such as healings. Whereas Catholics are required to believe in public revelation, private revelations are subject to extensive review and may not ever be officially sanctioned by the Church. In the context of the video, it appears the "Coming Out" spokesperson is making a case for acceptance of alternative lifestyles such as homosexuality on the basis of private revelation.
The TFP person conducting the interview points out that homosexuality is considered "intrinisically disordered" by the Catholic Church. This phrase asserts that homosexual actions are inherently or in themselves not directed toward a person's well being. According to Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson N.J., head of the committee on doctrine, "Homosexual acts are never morally acceptable. Such acts never lead to happiness," he said, "because they are 'intrinsically disordered,' meaning they are not directed to the bonds of marriage and the goal of procreation that are 'part of God's design.' But having an inclination that is disordered does not in any way diminish human worth."
Echarte might have included such definitions and thus moved the debate to genuine dialogue. Instead, her Vox populi article demonstrates the "Mutz paradox." This term was coined after Diane Mutz's book, Hearing the Other Side. She found that the higher a crowd's educational level, the less willing they are to hear divergent views. The result is an echo chamber.
Journalists from the Washington Post and the New York Times admit to submitting veto power to the liberal power base. In another example mentioned in "Mainstream Media Censors the News," a journalist admitted that CNN had accepted advertising money from a third world dictator, later succumbing to becoming a mouthpiece for state-sponsored propaganda.
This reality of media corruption requires what might be called a total review mentality in which every assertion is checked for "nutritional value." Steven Johnson uses the phrase in "Everything Bad is Good for You" to refer to the value of junk tv. Like junk tv generally junk news forces us to be smarter, to track the real story by noticing what gets left out, to notice how adversarial shout downs, slander, ridicule, and straw man formulas dominate as sophisticated digital tactics. The left is now the new far right, willing to suppress those who disagree with them.
College students need to learn how to see through intolerance in- the- name- of- diversity--you know, the bullies who smear and snipe at anyone whose views do not adhere to the dominant narrative. So, Georgetown students encounter a doctrinaire celebration of diversity on "Coming Out" day while not encouraged to discuss, let alone fully investigate the Church's teaching on homosexuality. Make no mistake, this is a form of censorship.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with loving people in their variety and their beauty, but that does not need to mean embracing any and all beliefs as equally valid and true.
The Philosopher's Daughter