There’s a worrisome mindset that appears to be spreading on college campuses: a desire for intellectual “safe spaces” where students can be assured of not being exposed to ideas or opinions that they may find uncomfortable.
It’s not a new thing. For decades, some students, faculty and alumni have objected to the invitation of lecturers, not because the speaker threatened violence -- which should not be -- but because they didn’t agree with the speaker’s message.
To me, that mindset goes against the mission of a college or university: to expose students to a wide range of challenging ideas so that they can develop critical thinking skills.
But now, rather than examine age-old and new philosophies and concepts, more students want only to hear an echo of their own previously formed opinions.
And it’s not just college students. It permeates our politics. Intellectual “book burnings” threaten to shut down the free flow of thought.
Even in the presidential debates, the candidates constantly interrupt each other. It sounds more like a playground than politics.
You cannot keep a republic if there is no calm, reasoned, peaceful discussion about real issues and a respectful competition for the minds of men and women.
Not all ideas are equal. Like the stars in the sky, some hold strong and will stand up under the most intense pressure. Others, like shooting stars, will shine brightly for a moment and then flame out with the passage of time.
But ideas need a place to be heard and evaluated. There is no better place for that than a university campus where learning must come not just from speaking, but listening.
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