To the girl who wrote in our school paper that freedom of speech ends where touchy subjects begin and the hall councilor who told me my politics make me a bad lesbian,
Let me explain.
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I know how it feels to be unable to express yourself freely; to be unwelcome in spaces and conversations. Silently listening to people debate issues that are personal, even intrinsic to my being, is physically painful. However, the only times I have felt that suffocation on my liberal arts campus have been because of my political affiliation and the lack of political inclusivity.
My Conservative identity is inherent to who I am, just the way my sexual orientation is.
Intellectual intimidation goes against what we as liberal arts students claim to promote: curiosity, willingness to challenge accepted concepts, and in-depth conversation across lines of difference. I have been closeted, and it sucks. If there is anything I have learned from navigating a rainbow web of lies it is that nobody deserves to have to hide any part of who they are; yet, there are members of the queer community and “allies” who want to force that half way of living onto those they disagree with. The result? A constant stifling of conservative opinions in both the classroom and daily life.
“Alternatively to Keynesian economics, Hayek suggests… Mises attributes… Bastiat explains…”
You never hear it. There are strong opposing arguments to much of what we hear reiterated in our classrooms and living spaces, but students are scared to speak up– scared for their grades and scared of the consequences to their social lives. It takes guts to question a professor, especially when it will undoubtedly elicit rolled eyes and unfettered laughter from peers.
No, I am not a traitor to ‘my people,’ not when I #StandWithRand, applaud capitalism, or defend free speech on campus.
For those who chide my “internalized homophobia” when I refuse to vote Democratic, libertarians were the first to advocate for same-sex marriage (or, even better, getting government out of marriage all together), recognizing that the government has no business regulating our most intimate relationships. The Democratic “evolution” of perspective coincidentally occurred along with changing public opinion. President Obama and Hillary Clinton began to defend the rights of LGBTQ+ people when it became politically beneficial to do so, a fact that makes me much less comfortable than does a candid conversation with people who have perspectives different from my own.
You really think some opinions should be forcibly censored? That it’s best for our liberal arts community if people are silenced? How we can ever improve our community without honest dialogue? A true exchange of ideas is the only way to change minds.
And what about after we leave the liberal arts college bubble? We are supposed to be gaining the skills here to go out and be leaders in the real world, where people say what they think. An intellectual climate that would discourage students from debating a landmark Supreme Court decision because it it potentially contentious or could hurt somebody’s feelings is not one that prepares those students to be successful.
Ultimately, the debate over expression on college campuses comes down to the venerable and immutable nature of the First Amendment. We have to defend unpopular opinions, even when we don’t agree with them, because we never know when it will be our own deeply held beliefs that are censored. Nobody’s rights end where others’ sensitives begin. I find that to be the most offensive notion I’ve been confronted with since I’ve been at school. Worse even than the dreaded microaggression.
You love to talk about “privilege.” Now I’m calling out yours. In my mind, liberal arts college is the best place on Earth. Did my stomach squirm a bit when I heard about ‘My Tie’ as a freshman? Yes. But to pretend that these are exclusive spaces, products of the patriarchy, or heteronormative holes that need to be rebuilt is to to deny that for many people, college is the sanctuary where they can finally be themselves. By putting down the liberal arts college environment and attempting to push conservatives out of conversations, you ignore the fact that there are places where queer people are actually not welcome.