I have often maintained that threats to freedom of expression in this country come predominantly — probably exclusively — from the political left. The censoring of a pro-life student club in a Las Vegas high school is a recent egregious example.
Angelique Clark, a sophomore at West Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas, says the Clark County School District denied her application to charter a pro-life club as a chapter of Students for Life of America, the nation’s largest youth pro-life organization. The district, according to Clark, said, “It was too controversial, and it would be too exclusive, and it would leave out pro-choice people.”
Fox News reported that in a statement, the school district said that all the school district’s clubs must have a faculty adviser before being allowed to form an official club and that Clark’s proposed club did not. But Fox affiliate KVVU reports that it obtained a copy of Clark’s charter application, dated December 2014, and it in fact does include a faculty adviser’s signature.
The plot thickens.
I received an email from a representative from Students for Life, which said the school’s vice principal told Clark that abortion is too controversial. Yet according to the email, this school has a Gay-Straight Alliance club. The vice principal also allegedly told Clark that there are “far more qualified” people to talk about abortion than a 16-year-old high-school sophomore. Wow.
Let’s examine some of the school’s alleged claims for denying this application. How about its claim that the proposed club would be too controversial and exclusive?
The constitutional right to free speech was designed to protect so-called controversial speech. Why would we need to protect speech that offends no one or that no one disagrees with?
Are people who make such arguments really that intoxicated by their own ideology that they can’t understand that if governmental authorities get to decide what is and isn’t permissible speech, you don’t have freedom at all? Or do they not care? As they consistently demonstrate, they are not about freedom but about coercing the universal acceptance of their views and suppressing all dissent.
Their ideological blindness is clearly demonstrated not just by their willingness to allow a Gay-Straight Alliance club, with no apparent concerns about its potentially controversial nature, but by their obliviousness to their inconsistency.
The scary thing about the way these ideologues think — and this isn’t an isolated case — is that they don’t even recognize competing interests that must be weighed: free speech vs. ostensibly avoiding any angst in the school caused by controversial subjects. They doubtlessly have such contempt for the pro-life cause that they summarily dismiss the notion that it is protected speech within the school district’s mini-tyrannical domain. Concerning the gay-straight club, they are so convinced of its cause that they automatically disregard any possible suggestion that it is also a controversial subject. It is sobering that these people are so deluded with Orwellian thought that they don’t see themselves as censoring speech; they just simply redefine speech as that universe of propositions they happen to agree with, and ideas outside their universe are not protected.
How about the claim that it would be too exclusive because it would leave out pro-choice people? This is so ludicrous that it shouldn’t require a rebuttal. What clubs don’t encourage people with common interests or common causes to join? Is the gay-straight alliance not similarly exclusive? Are not all such clubs exclusive as the school administrators are defining it? Clubs, by definition, are groups whose members have something in common and therefore, also by definition, are in some ways exclusive.
Apparently, for people of the worldview espoused by this school administration, a gay-straight club is not similarly exclusive, because in their minds, a club that supports camaraderie among gay people and straight people is inherently inclusive. But what about people who don’t agree with the platform such clubs endorse? Well, to the leftist ideologues, it is objectively unreasonable and usually evil to oppose anything such a group would endorse, just as those who disagree with the absurdly apocalyptical claims of extreme environmentalists are branded “deniers.” And remember hearing proponents of same-sex marriage recently saying that speech opposing it is “hate speech” and not protected? It’s the exact same type of thinking.
Again, the problem is not just that these leftists want to censor certain opposing views; it’s also that they don’t see their own tyranny, hypocrisy, intolerance and exclusiveness.
What about the claim that Angelique Clark isn’t qualified enough to opine on the subject? Don’t you see how this bizarre idea flows from the same warped ideological mindset? Since when did one have to be an expert on something to have a right to advocate it? And who decides?
The answer is the political left. Because leftists believe that the pro-life position is inarguably wrong, they apparently attribute Clark’s endorsement of it to her youthful ignorance. What else could explain their embarrassingly ridiculous statement that she can’t form a club because other people would be more qualified to articulate the ideas it would advance? Applying that standard, the school should have to ban all of its athletic programs because its athletes aren’t so good as college or professional athletes.
I have no expectation that my arguments here will be viewed as reasonable by people who would agree with the horrifying thinking of this school administration, but I would never deny their right to think or express their views, nor would any conservative I’ve ever met.
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Photo credit: generationlife (Flickr Commons)
David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book is “Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel.” Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com.