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Daily Tar Heel: Choice of campus speakers linked to schools' statuses as 'safe havens for free speech'

Just last night, Twitchy took a look at the very real phenomenon of designated campus “safe spaces” meant to shield students who feel threatened, or “triggered,” by college guest speakers whose words might “re-traumatize” or somehow harm them emotionally.


An editorial published this week in the University of North Carolina’s Daily Tar Heel is raising some red flags among conservatives for similar reasons, taking on a speech on campus by David Horowitz, which the writers say “rightfully provoked an outcry, including a social media campaign, #NotSafeUNC.”

Agree or not, where the editorial then takes a bizarre left turn is by criticizing Duke University’s recent decision to host Mitt Romney for a discussion of President Obama’s foreign policy.

Romney, while likely briefed extensively about national security issues during his campaign for president, did not match that preparation with a nuanced discussion of national security policy, instead employing charged partisan rhetoric.

Universities, and by extension, student groups, have a responsibility to promote serious discussions about controversial issues. This responsibility is inextricably linked to universities’ statuses as safe havens for free speech.

UNC’s College Republicans and Duke should not lend the pageantry and platforms they did to speakers such as Horowitz and Romney if they will only use their platform to advance ideological agendas with little grounding in academic discussions of these critical issues.

In short, while the UNC College Republicans had every right to invite Horowitz to speak, he shouldn’t have been invited, and the College Republicans should invite better speakers “to promote intellectually substantial discussions.” And safe ones, obviously.



Just delivered political talking points rather than intellectually substantial discussions? We wonder what an audit of classes offered on just about any campus would reveal under that standard.

For their part, the College Republicans responded with their own letter to the editor.

… We do not condone hate speech, but what we must embrace on this campus is intellectual diversity.

If the left can bring a speaker as one-sided and divisive as Angela Davis, who was labeled a “dangerous terrorist” and was put on the FBI Most Wanted List for her involvement in the deadly takeover of a courthouse in Marin County, California, the College Republicans reserve the right to invite a similarly passionate, yet law-abiding, individual in David Horowitz.


Just for fun, check out the University of North Carolina’s biography of “famed activist” Angela Davis, “known for her long-standing commitment to human rights,” who delivered the school’s MLK Day keynote address.

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