Ever tried dealing with a playground bully? What shuts him (or her, for our politically correct readers) up fastest? A bloody nose.
Bullies operate on the assumption that they are safe from retribution. When they find out that’s not true, they curdle like spoiled milk. Until then, their conduct can only spiral further out of control.
That’s what’s happening at colleges across America. Students who think they can dictate what is said on their campus are shutting down any point of view they oppose. That’s not youthful indiscretion. It’s a crime. And the perpetrators should be prosecuted for it.
This week, the University of California at Berkeley – a communist commune that poses as a cathedral of learning – succeeded in getting conservative commentator Ann Coulter’s scheduled speech canceled. The university later suggested she give her speech on May 2 but she rejected that date.
The reason for the original cancellation: college administrators feared her presence might pose a security risk.
A risk to whom? Coulter? She can take care of herself. The students who, masked in balaclavas and paisley handkerchiefs, think the best way to express their opinion is to smash in windows and set fire to cars? They want their freedom of speech to be unabridged, including acts of violence. Coulter sets only verbal bonfires with her intentionally overheated rhetoric.
It’s time for college administrators and campus police to grow a pair, and prosecute students who engage in these antics. Shutting down free speech is a crime, as Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, knows.
”What’s going on with Ann Coulter is classic viewpoint discrimination,” Sekulow told me. “The Supreme Court has been consistent that viewpoint discrimination is a violation of free speech. And that is illegal.”
So who needs to take action? “It’s the school’s job to prevent the protests from becoming violent,” Sekulow says. “Letting students create a hostile environment that shuts down free speech opens the school to lawsuits.”
So let’s stop worrying about the students’ rights and prosecute the criminals among them. Here’s how, according to Sekulow:
“In a public place, and that includes the campus, you’re allowed to videotape what the students are doing. From a criminal perspective, the campus police would have to bring the lawsuit against people who are rioting. Frankly, until now, what the campus police have been doing is nothing. And the result is that free speech is being shut down. This goes way beyond political correctness. This is criminal conduct.”
College life is a time for young people to be exposed to new ideas, to weigh them and decide what works for them as they form their adult personalities. The message today’s students are getting is: agree with me or keep your mouth shut. That’s not education. It’s tyranny.
John Moody is Executive Vice President, Executive Editor for Fox News. A former Rome bureau chief for Time magazine, he is the author of four books including “Pope John Paul II : Biography.“