Anne Gunderson
Published in

Anne Gunderson

College Kids Don’t Hate the First Amendment

Millennials are at it again — stomping all over free speech with their snowflake fragility, mob mentality, and avocado toast eating. Old people everywhere are penning thinkpieces, “trying” to understand why young people hate freedom so much. Well wonder no more because Gallup interviewed over 3,000 college students, who definitely thought it was the Postmates delivery guy calling, and asked what was more important to them: a diverse and inclusive society or protecting free speech rights. Almost 53 percent of respondents chose diversity over free speech, most of whom self-identified as women, black, and/or democrats.

See! The old people were right. They can’t even suggest that Todd might really be the most qualified candidate for the promotion without a 19-year-old feminazi screaming “DIVERSITY” in their faces. It’s a hard life. But humor me, if you will, on why this data might not be painting an accurate picture.

I mean, seriously guys. How are you going to be mad at us for both hating free speech and for protesting? I just feel like you’ve got to choose one. We want our campuses to better represent the diversity of races, cultures, genders, and identities that exist in this country and we are practicing our first amendment right to achieve this goal. This is what people have done before us (including some of the folks from your generation) and it will be what people will continue to do after us.

2. It is, therefore, possible to value both free speech and diversity.

I know. That’s deep, so give it a moment to sink in. The respondents to the Gallup survey were told that they had to choose between the two — “both” wasn’t an option. Faced with this lazy dichotomy that pinned two things that aren’t even mutually exclusive against each other, it is possible and probable that the students simply chose the end over the means. Honestly, I probably would’ve said the same thing if, for no other reason, it meant separating myself from the people who hide behind the first amendment to protect their bigoted opinions that no one asked to hear in the first place. Which brings me to my last point…

3. We’re not protesting free speech. We’re protesting hate speech.

It’s no mystery that this false dichotomy between diversity and free speech emerged when hateful, ignorant, racist, misogynistic, and aggressively mediocre white men starting booking rooms on campuses. We’re not asking our universities to keep this trash off of our campuses because they’re suggesting that white guys might not be so bad. They are white supremacists who are willing to use violence and degradation to oppress already marginalized groups. They are threatening the lives of my friends, peers, and colleagues and it is completely rational to not want to give them a platform.

The only reason people believe that college students hate free speech is because our arguments have been mischaracterized in a transparent attempt to guard against diversity and equity in academic and professional spaces. Instead of asking us poorly constructed (read: stupid) questions then creating data around it to give it credence, your time would be better spent asking yourself why you seem to only want free speech when it echoes your own views.

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Anne is a friend of all things nuanced, inspiring, and thoughtful.

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