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America’s college campuses, where speech isn’t so free anymore

Free speechWelcome to America’s college campuses, where the feelings of students are never to be bruised and where freedom of speech is reserved for only some of those doing the speaking. Examples abound from coast to coast.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s case may be the best known. A Muslim and an outspoken advocate of women’s rights, Hirsi Ali was to have received an honorary degree from Brandeis University. But when faculty members, students and Muslim groups complained, the university quickly withdrew its offer.

The notion of Condoleeza Rice, secretary of state and national security adviser under President George W. Bush, delivering the commencement speech at Rutgers University was too much to bear for enlightened students and faculty there. Can’t have anyone associated with that war-mongering Bush 43 talking to us, by golly!

At Azusa Pacific University in California, political scientist and author Charles Murray was invited to give a lecture. The announcement about Murray, a libertarian best known for his book “The Bell Curve,” was met with protest. So the administration “delayed” the talk. He then used an open letter to tell students that the administration “wants to protect you from earnest and nerdy old guys who have opinions that some of your faculty do not share. Ask if this is why you’re getting a college education.”

In late October, Raymond Kelly, commissioner of the New York City Police Department, was prevented from speaking at Brown University. Kelly’s stop-and-frisk policy has helped drive down crime in the city but it’s seen as racial profiling by liberals. Students booed and heckled him for 30 minutes until he gave up.

Just this week, the head of the International Monetary Fund withdrew as commencement speaker at Smith College after about 500 people signed an online petition taking issue with the IMF’s policies.

According to the Foundation for International Rights in Education, a free-speech advocacy group, there have been 95 protests of planned speeches on college campuses since 2009, resulting in 39 cancellations. “There are serious implications for what is going on here,” Anne Neal, president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, told The Wall Street Journal. “Universities are becoming havens of the closed-minded.”

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This article was written by the editorial board of The Oklahoman.