Letter: Insecure campus lefties undermine free speech

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To the editor:

Clarence Fanto is spot on in his criticism of college campus liberals who are intolerant of free speech ("To honor First Amendment freedoms, all voices must be heard," Eagle, Oct. 27). These are the lefties who love to claim they are the true champions of freedom and democracy, yet they are so insecure about their beliefs that they won't tolerate opposing views. They actually remind me of Trump.

Fanto cites several recent examples of campus intolerance, but the one I wrote a letter about awhile back was protests at Berkeley that prevented Ann Coulter from speaking to conservative students on campus. I said it was foolish and counter-productive to boost Coulter's profile by putting her on the national news as a victim. You're just putting money in her pocket, because all the loudmouthed right-wing pundits can only thrive when they get attention. I said the best strategy was to simply ignore her. Let her go to some auditorium on campus and blow her usual tired hot air in front of her adoring, gullible fans. Then they can all go home and everyone will forget about it.

Ask Americans if they believe in free speech and they'll say "Yes, of course!" But the moment someone says something they absolutely can't stand to hear, they'll quickly change their tune. Not only is that other person wrong to say those things they are saying, but they shouldn't even be allowed to say it! The First Amendment is meaningless when everyone agrees with each other. It only matters when people disagree vehemently. That's when we are truly tested as to whether or not we actually believe in the Constitution.

In our own back yard, there was an effort to prohibit Garrison Keillor from speaking publicly. It was foolish because I'm pretty sure no one was forced to go hear him against their will. Keillor has many adoring fans who forgive him for whatever he did, or don't believe he did anything wrong. Right or wrong, why shouldn't they be allowed to see him speak in person?

Keillor is a talented humorist and story-teller, but I'm not a big fan. I've always regarded him as, shall we say, "full of himself." A big ego isn't necessarily a bad thing, but as a fellow native Midwesterner, his "Aw, shucks, I'm just a simple boy from Minnesota" routine grates on me and rings hollow in light of his obvious over-sized ambition. After all, this is a guy who as a young boy changed his name from "Gary" to "Garrison" because the latter was more fitting for his literary ambitions. It turns out he was very successful, and success translates to power, so it's certainly plausible to me that he might have used his power to engage in inappropriate behavior around women. But, since I never put the guy on a pedestal to begin with, his alleged behavior wasn't all that shocking and didn't dramatically effect my opinion of him.

So, personally, I wouldn't bother to go see him talk. But if someone else wants to hear him, I have absolutely no business trying to prevent it.          

Arne Waldstein,

Housatonic

Arne Waldstein,

Housatonic

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