It’s no surprise that progressive groups like Black Lives Matter want to shut down free speech on college campuses—but they shouldn’t be getting help from school officials to do it.
In at least one recent case, they did. This week, the president of Texas Southern University intervened to shut down a Federalist Society event featuring Republican state Rep. Briscoe Cain at the TSU law school. Dozens of Black Lives Matter protesters crashed the event, shouting, “When a racist comes to town, shut it down!” and other slogans meant to smear Cain, a member of the conservative Texas House Freedom Caucus. The protesters were eventually cleared from the room, but no sooner had they left than TSU President Austin Lane arrived on the scene, invited the protesters back in, and had Cain escorted from campus by police under the pretext that it was for his own safety.
The school’s official (and unconvincing) excuse was that the event was unsanctioned because the Federalist Society isn’t an registered student organization and “proper scheduling procedures were not followed.” Yet James Douglas, the interim dean of the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at TSU, told The Dallas Morning News that the law school’s branch of the Federalist Society, which had invited Cain to speak, went through all the proper procedures. “We have a process here in the law school, and they went through our process,” Douglas said. “The speaker had a First Amendment right to be heard by the students that invited him.”
What’s more, emails published by The Blaze show that university officials were in touch with the president of the TSU chapter of the Federalist Society, Daniel Caldwell, and that the group is indeed listed as a registered student organization. Cain released a statement saying, “The explanation given by the university is blatantly inconsistent with the administration’s approval of the event for months. Black Lives Matter was not protesting the paperwork not being filed properly, they wanted to silence speech they disagreed with, and the University allowed it.”
This isn’t the first time students affiliated with Black Lives Matter have silenced free speech on college campuses. Last week, a group of protesters crashed an event at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, rushing the stage and preventing the invited speaker from continuing. The irony is that the invited speaker was a representative from the American Civil Liberties Union who intended to speak on the subject, “Students and the First Amendment.”
The difference is, at TSU the university president was colluding with Black Lives Matter to silence free speech and forcibly shut down a duly sanctioned event. Nor is it the first time that TSU has caved to the heckler’s veto. Back in May, the school canceled a commencement speech by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn amid outrage over the Republican senator’s support for the Trump administration.
Not that the suppression of free speech by university officials should come as a surprise. The entire anti-free speech movement on college campuses was inculcated and encouraged by left-wing university professors and administrators who hate the idea of the First Amendment and have worked to ensure that dissenting—which is to say, conservative—opinions are excluded or silenced on campus.
This time, the veil slipped, and TSU’s president was caught on camera openly inviting Black Lives Matter to shout down an invited guest speaker. Maybe now that it’s out in the open, we can drop the pretense that college administrators like TSU’s Lane are in any way interested in the free exchange of ideas on their campuses, or in maintaining even the appearance of intellectual diversity—the only kind that should really matter on a college campus.
They prefer instead for their schools to become hermetically sealed bastions of progressive politics. No wonder they don’t want conservatives to speak. Without the distraction of debating actual ideas, they can get down to what they consider to be their real job: indoctrinating students and teaching them above all how to be political activists.