Recently, conservative sentiments and factions on campus have experienced a huge resurgence, likely due both to backlash after the TCNJ Committee on Unity sit-in two years ago and also due to the rise of Trump and his administration. This resurgence is epitomized in the opinion piece published in the October 31st edition of The Signal, “Liberal campuses stifle open discourse.” Her definition of “liberal” opinions and behavior as “aggressive, hostile and dangerous” as well as her use of “both sides” rhetoric makes it very clear as to where the author stands in terms of the current political climate and exactly what she feels stifled by. Unfortunately, she is not quite as moderate as she believes herself to be — if she even truly identifies with the term.
Let’s discuss what the author leaves out, shall we? Not 500 feet away from the destruction of the Students for Life display (which was a graveyard for aborted babies that hurt many students who have had to have abortions) were representatives from the Key of David Christian Center, whose leader, Aden Rusfeldt, was stomping on gay pride flags, throwing diapers at students, calling young women “sluts” and “whores” and generally preaching hatred. If liberal campuses truly stifle open discourse, why did TCNJ allow this event? It should also be noted that SFL has a pro-life speaker coming to campus and has had many events and displays after the destruction of the flag display, which is interesting considering the way that they published the incident in national conservative media, hurt people as a result, and suffered no visible consequences.
What the author fails to understand is that while she and her friends must sometimes sit with discomfort and think for one moment about how her statement might sound to others, many of the “liberals” she disagrees with literally have our lives on the line. The only punishment she might receive for sharing an “incorrect” opinion is shame, guilt or anger, whereas we are currently having our rights stripped away by the U. S. government. These are not equal consequences, and it is either naive or foolish to believe that they merit the same consideration. I’m very sorry that the author is upset because her opinion isn’t being given “fair consideration” in the classroom, but perhaps she needs to consider how she might feel if she gave a wrong answer in mathematics, for example. Should one’s opinion, even if incorrect, be given “fair consideration” in that class as well?
The author’s use of the many alt-right and conservative buzzwords in her article (“breeding grounds for far left thinking,” both sides rhetoric, “intolerance” related to Trump, etc.) makes me think that the opinions she is being rebuked for may stem from a disregard or disrespect towards people unlike herself. Whether this is true or not, let me make one thing clear: basic respect for other human beings is not an opinion or a political stance. It is a mandatory gesture of basic human decency. If you cannot understand that, then perhaps it’s best to take a moment to listen to others and take in experiences rather than whining about the brief discomfort you feel not discussing your own.