In its latest editorial, The Harvard Crimson included itself in the conversation about Milo Yiannapoulos and UC Berkeley by taking a figurative dump on the First Amendment. Labeling Yiannapoulos's speech as "hateful," the editors said that an important distinction should exist between intellectual diversity and hate speech. It also called on college campuses, including Harvard, to not allow individuals like Yiannapoulos to have a platform to speak.
Here's their justification:
Yiannopoulos does not deserve to be granted the platform of a university campus to espouse his hateful beliefs. Institutions of higher education pride themselves on generating new knowledge and challenging old beliefs for the purposes of advancing our understanding of the world. Furthermore, these institutions are built on the principle of evidence-based research. In contrast, Yiannopoulos appears to challenge others’ beliefs simply for the sake of being a contrarian, and he does so with little tenability for his claims. Yiannopoulos is little more than a racist, sexist, and anti-semite who encourages hate and fear rather than intellectual thought.
The editorial further claimed that Yiannapoulos's presence and speech is a "tangible threat" to students' safety and well-being. It also sent the following suggestion to the Harvard community.
Members of Harvard should think twice before inviting speakers such as Yiannopoulos to our campus. Granting these figures a platform at our universities only serves to further legitimize their untenable, hateful claims and poses a threat to fellow classmates. Milo Yiannopoulos and other members of the alt-right have no place on college campuses. Harvard College's mission statement "seeks to identify and to remove restraints on students’ full participation"; the identification and prevention of hate speech is critical in this mission.
For lack of a better word, this is absolutely ridiculous and nonsensical. The First Amendment does not hold any exceptions to speech of views that the editors do not like, especially those that counter the opinions their radical leftist peers promulgate on a regular basis. Furthermore, The Crimson's exception to Yiannapoulos's speech is hypocritical when the editorial staff refused to comment when a third-year Palestinian-Arab law student referred to Israeli politician Tzipi Livni as "smelly." The selective outrage on hateful commentary within Harvard's ivory tower, especially its journalistic core, remains noticeable to the keenly observant.
As Harvard Law School graduate and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Felix Frankfurter said in the majority opinion in Milk Wagon Drivers Union of Chicago, Local 753. v. Meadowmoor Dairies, Inc.:
It must never be forgotten, however, that the Bill of Rights was the child of the Enlightenment. Back of the guarantee of free speech lay faith in the power of an appeal to reason by all the peaceful means for gaining access to the mind.
Clearly, The Harvard Crimson's editors should re-read both the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights.
Clearly, The Harvard Crimson's editors should re-read both the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights instead of relying on their insignificant and legally irrelevant feelings. It is not "free speech for me, but not for thee"; it is free speech for all.
Follow Elliott on Twitter.