In the coming weeks, far-right PragerU speaker, Will Witt, will be coming to UNM. Whether or not that will garner the same hatred and response as when Milo Yiannopolous came to speak is yet to be seen. 

Being a registered Democrat and a self-described progressive, my biggest complaint with my own party is our refusal to hear others with views that don’t align with exactly with our’s. The first amendment of our Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law … prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech.” I’m not sure why we have such an animosity towards those who have opinions that do not match our own.

We are so quick to label those we don’t agree with as racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. We refuse even to hear the other side out and have seemingly decided that it is best to try and shut down speech that we don’t agree with. We have labeled it hate speech so we can justify our disdain for freedom of speech. We would rather have anyone who disagrees with our values and opinions not allowed to speak or come anywhere near our campus. This is dangerous.

There is value in making sure this campus is diverse, safe, and open to all people of different ideologies and backgrounds. We may be diverse in race, gender, and sexuality at this university, but we are not diverse in thought. We are quick to shun and shut down those who do not fall in the “safe space”, narrow-minded view of liberalism that has consumed college campuses across the country. If we take away the freedom of speech and the discourse that fuels our society, what will we be left with? We should aim to welcome all kinds of people with differing opinions to our campus and hear them out. Trying to shut down speakers to make ourselves feel better only harms us in the long-run.

The other part of the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the… right of the people peaceably to assemble,” gives us the power to protest the ideas and values that come from these speakers. This does not, however, give us the ability to try to shut down their speech. Liberals and progressives alike cannot seem to distinguish between these two and are content with allowing a single-sided story to be prevalent on our already liberally-dominated campus. So when this speaker comes to our university, attend the event, hear him out, or protest for what you believe in. But trying to shut down speakers because we just don’t agree with them is one of the least progressive trends and anti-liberal things you can do. 

I know I’ll attend this event, and even though I may disagree with what this speaker will say. I’m definitely not going to try and shut this event down or violate this speaker’s right to freedom of speech, and I suggest you do the same.

Matthew Zank