You’re right, Richard Spencer wasn’t prevented from speaking.
Lou Lenehan

Can you tell me what is wrong with that video?

I want to be specific because I feel like your first comment resonated with a lot of people. And that scares me, because I feel like most of us are not paying enough attention to these altercations, leading to a broad feeling that college students are somehow oppressing millionaires with contracts writing pieces that the president later uses to construct policy.

You and many others seem to have higher standards for 19–22 year olds than you seem to for paid journalists who actually have access to politicians and write articles that influenced millions of voters. The hostility faced by Shapiro in Wisconsin is nothing compared to what Breitbart did to him, and his boss there now works at the White House.

I want to understand why you’ve prioritized speakers and their rights this way. It is clear to me that college students have generally been noisy and obnoxious for decades. Which seems natural: they are young, educated, generally idealistic people, often without full time jobs. They throw a lot of hissy fits, but often they make good points because they have the time to speak out on issues most of us cannot address in our day to day lives.

That’s why I am challenging your comments. You are feeding this perception that young idealists are breaking the national conversation and preventing a ‘real conversation’ from occuring. The “marketplace of ideas” you alluded to:

You don’t change people’s minds by preventing them from speaking. You change people’s minds by engaging them and by making persuasive and intelligent arguments. That’s what the Left needs to start doing again. More arguments, less tantrums.

My theory is that the real conversation, between people who are genuinely ideologically opposed and talking about the same subject, has not occured in a long time. Not publicly. Maybe not even in my lifetime. I think of things like James Baldwin’s debate with William Buckley at Cambridge and I have a very hard time coming up with comparable events in recent media:

And that is definitely not what is happening when Ben Shapiro is invited to a school to speak. He is invited to speak, not to debate with an intellectual equal. The students who challenge him are kids. And I have spent the last few years watching the rightwing media promote this narrative that college kids are responsible for stifling the rights of people who run think tanks.

I would dearly love to have an environment that led to genuine engagement on both sides, with conservatives and progressives speaking to each other about real problems the nation faces. But we have to be honest with ourselves, that not only is this not happening on college campuses, I also don’t think that is the goal for the conservative speakers who we see traveling to schools to foment riots and dischord. This is colonization, not conversation.

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