Fascist mobs threaten violence and lectures are cancelled; public parades are called off at the threat of physical disruption—even at UC Berkeley, long considered since the 60s the founding institution of the modern “Free Speech Movement.” Even radical feminist Camille Paglia is shocked, denouncing the ethical chaos on the American campus where “intolerance masquerades as tolerance and where individual liberty is crushed by the tyranny of the group.” Are we seeing the beginning of the end of Western civilization? Violence creates fear, which squelches free speech. Eventually, a powerful elite arises that no one can resist. 

To some, the solution seems simple. University administrators should get some backbone and exercise their administrative and moral authority; the police should enforce the law and clear the streets of violence. But nothing happens. Instead, university administrators bow to student pressure, creating officially-sponsored “safe spaces” where free speech is eradicated. Wesleyan University in Connecticut, founded in 1831, is planning to spend $220,000 per year to create a resource center that will promote LGBT rights, among other “social justice causes.” The president of the school believes the resource center “will help to meet the needs of students who are most vulnerable." Alas, this initiative will not solve the problem of free speech but will rather exacerbate it, creating generations of students unable or unwilling to face criticism—students who insist on their own way by any means possible.

The culture increasingly refuses the “free speech” of a serious discussion of homosexuality. In a high school class he was teaching, Andrew Turner, 63, the Conservative Member of Parliament for the Isle of Wight, had the audacity to say that “homosexuality is wrong and a danger to society.” An LGBT student stormed out of the room and wrote on Facebook “I had to leave. It’s terrifying that in this age and point in our development as a society, there are still people that can’t care enough about a person’s wellbeing to just accept who they are.” Doubtless this man’s career is over, for this subject is taboo in the public exchange of ideas. 

The democratic rights of free speech collide with today’s new identity politics, which universities appease by creating safe spaces or by silencing opposition via threats of violence. My friend Everett Piper of Oklahoma Wesleyan University is right. Speaking about a Christian Wesleyan college, Seattle Pacific College, he says, in a personal email: “When the Church concedes that the definition of human identity is little more than the sum total of human inclinations, the battle for human dignity and moral culpability is lost before it starts. …[T]he college ceases to be Christian.” When long-time professors Kengor and Ayers of Grove City College (a traditionally orthodox school), announced their 2018 seminar “The Bible and Natural Family,” an angry uproar arose. Alumni called the college to ask that they cancel the class, students tore down hundreds of posters, and a group of alumni, students and faculty began a Facebook group called Advocates for Inclusion and Acceptance, stating “we are expecting a class full of homophobic propaganda,” even though the announced intention was to bring in opposing views. 

It is no longer possible to engage in public conversation about sacrosanct “personal gender choices.” It is the elephant in every room whenever the question of free speech is raised. The LGBTQ claim for the right to self-identification nullifies the very principles of free speech. If there is any issue that may not be discussed, free speech is meaningless. The loss of free speech will not go away if such crucial issues of identity form an inviolable central core of those retreating to their “safe spaces.” But we must not bury this issue, for it speaks to who we are. Everett Piper is right: “Honesty demands that we boldly pursue ideas tested by time, defended by reason, validated by experience, and confirmed by revelation” (personal email). Are we created by God in His image or do we create ourselves? May the Lord give His Church courage to speak truth in our time, as Jesus did in his. If the essential nature of the human person is constantly suppressed in this once “Christian” land, it will soon look like the “self-creating,” sexually “liberated” pagan culture of ancient Rome.      truthXchange