Over at the Daily Caller, Scott Greer has written an interesting piece on the spontaneous comments of First Lady Michelle Obama while giving a speech at a high school senior recognition day. According to the transcript provided by the Blaze, the First Lady asked students to “...monitor their older relatives, friends and co-workers for any racially insensitive comments they might make, and to challenge those comments whenever they’re made.”
Mrs. Obama's comments are fresh news, but the thought police has been around for a while, and the oxygen for many of these anti-free speech initiatives comes from college campuses and students themselves. Colleges have quietly restricted the First Amendment rights of students for a decade now under the guise of safety, hate speech, or supporting values that are the antithesis of what the college or university supposedly stands for. Pro-suppression activists often call the speakers or students who support them “anti-intellectuals” or “non-academic.” This is used to silence those who dare question the progressive agenda on campus.
This commencement season has seen the worst forms of these hate speech laws. At Rutgers University, Condoleeza Rice, former secretary of state under President George W. Bush, was subjected to a frenzy of “hate speech” accusations over her role in the Iraq War. The student protesters even went so far as to stage a sit-in at the school administration building. Rice opted to turn down the invite after several days of protests.
In addition, this trend was in play at Brandeis University where Islamic critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s invitation to speak at the commencement was also rescinded after backlash. In a statement posted in the Boston Globe, the university stated that “we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.”
This silencing or hiding behind “hate speech” has been going on for several years now. Back in 2008, Tom Tancredo was run off the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s campus after the Student for a Democratic Society rioted to the embarrassment of the school and its alumni. I was on campus that day visiting my brother, and while I was not at the site of the speech, I do remember the police and ambulances sirens headed that way.
The first lady herself is not free from toxic speech suppression. Coming from radical Harvard Law School during an era David French described as essentially a radical law commune, in which conservatives were shouted down and their jobs were put on the line, Michelle Obama has an idea of what hate speech does to free speech. Now she's charging students with monitoring their parents and friends. The thought police have not taken over yet, but they have left campus.