I get why the students are upset, and I also get why the right wing cannot abide the student resistance to her. Both positions seem “somewhat” reasonable, or at least both sides have their reasons. But inclusiveness that promotes hate speech is ill advised, and that’s the kind of speech Coulter specializes in.
The students are holding themselves to a standard that says free speech in this case is less important than resisting hate speech. That’s a slippery slope, of course, but I get it. Those who revel in Coulter’s filth are hateful and like to shovel that hate out into the public conversation. If you think gays are evil, women’s rights don’t matter, war is better than peace, Rich is better than poor. Coulter is for you. And if you believe empathy and evidence are irrelevant—then Coulter is your kind of speaker.
There are many cases where free speech is toxic. Our mentally ill “president” is a great example. His lying, exaggeration, and demagoguery during the campaign were breathtakingly toxic.
When the right wing says I have to listen to them, be open-minded, and consider all the sides to issues, I do try to do,just that. But when I discover they spread outright lies and ill-founded nonsense, then my receptivity diminishes to the vanishing point. Academia has lots of problems, to be sure. But in the main it is a vital, essential part of the civilizing influence of evidence-based thinking. Ask yourself: Why is America’s elite higher education so treasured all around the world?
Coulter is toxic to evidence-based discourse, which is what academia is all about (or should be all about). Coulter should be allowed to speak, and the students allowed to protest.
Ralph Dunagin and Dana Summers
April 03, 2015