'Liberal upset with the college'

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I am ashamed for the Beloit College students who effectively gagged Erik Prince.

I am proudly progressive - a liberal, if you prefer. There is nothing progressive, liberal or democratic about silencing our political opponents.

Right wingers say that colleges and universities squelch conservative speech, that the left is tyrannical, and that only those with the correct views get to speak or teach.

Political thugs at Beloit College have provided more evidence for that argument by giving themselves authority to decide who gets heard.

Colleges, theoretically, exist for students to examine ideas. Students may encounter ideas they hate from speakers they despise. Too bad. Listen or don't listen. Protest in a way that allows the expression of ideas you dislike.

I am proud to have demonstrated against the Vietnam War as a student, and to have participated in other marches and peaceful protests since.

There are ways to protest that don't include silencing everyone you object to. Prince had a right to his say, and others had a right to hear him.

You find Erik Prince reprehensible? Too bad. This is America, and he gets to speak. Stand outside the hall and make your disgust and opposition clear.

These students won't always be in cozy liberal institutions. Their careers may take them to places where their political views are hated. I hope that, wherever they land, they always enjoy the American freedom to express their ideas. I hope that they learn to allow the same freedom to others.

Steven Engelbert


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