Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, an assistant professor of African-American Studies at Princeton University, wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times claiming that the right-wing media defies the First Amendment when it comes to leftist propaganda. She framed this argument from her own personal experience receiving backlash from Fox News for her commencement address at Hampshire College in Massachusetts. She described the influx of objectively hateful messages including those hoping she got lynched and raped.
While such behavior is completely unacceptable and those who sent her threats ought to be prosecuted, Professor Taylor took this example to express how the Right, particularly in the media, does not actually care about free speech when it comes to progressives. She argued that Fox News' clip of her speech demonstrated the network's, and thus the entire Right's, hypocrisy when it comes to free speech. This is the crux of her argument:
When it comes to protecting the speech of people who are most vulnerable to being intimidated into silence — like people of color and gay people — conservatives either are suspiciously quiet or drive further intimidation with wildly negative news coverage.
It’s not just the right. Most schools — including Princeton, where I teach — support their besieged professors. But in recent months, other progressive academics have been investigated, disciplined and even fired for comments they made outside of the classroom. This is an ominous turn. The trend has become so visible that earlier this year, the American Association of University Professors implored institutions to take a stand “by resisting calls for the dismissal of faculty members and by condemning their targeted harassment and intimidation.”
She also insinuated that progressives ought to have the same free speech protections as conservatives do. First of all, the United States Constitution does protect the speech of all Americans regardless of political affiliation. Second of all, Professor Taylor ignores that conservatives have experienced the overwhelmingly majority of the speech suppression events on college campuses for the past few years, demonstrating Professor Taylor's ignorance about free speech issues on campus.
For example, leftist students at Claremont McKenna College and the other four Claremont Colleges shut down Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute from speaking at the Athaneum. In addition, Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro had been interrupted by leftist protesters at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and is currently fighting with UC Berkeley over a scheduled appearance on September 14. Finally, Dr. Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute got shouted down at Middlebury College. While there are a handful of instances where liberals and progressives had their voices suppressed, the issue of free speech on college campuses is a pervasive problem for anyone who is not a progressive.
However, that does not prevent Professor Taylor from claiming that the Right's refusal to allow leftist viewpoints from going unopposed demonstrates an inversion of the Right's campaign to protect free speech:
What is shocking is that while the right-wing media is wringing its hands about suppressive leftists, openly racist and fascist-sympathizing organizations are recruiting young white people on campuses. That conservative pundits have precious little to say when campuses are defiled with swastikas, nooses and racist fliers but cry foul when people like Richard Spencer, Mr. Yiannopoulos and Ms. Coulter are met with protest has become a sick paradox of our time.
Professor Taylor fails to recognize that conservatives would never advocate the disinvitation of any speaker or the suppression of anyone's speech. One of the foundational principles of conservatism is that people have the right to express their opinions regardless of how conspiratorial, hateful, or preposterous it may seem. That includes protecting the speech of alt-right low-life Richard Spencer or known racist and anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan. Whenever the Right chooses to highlight progressive insanity, it does not do so with the intent of suppressing speech but rather debating the merits of one's ideas.
Unfortunately, Professor Taylor conflates any criticism of her opinion with a proactive movement to silence her speech. That is beyond preposterous and it speaks volumes about how the Left takes issue with anyone who dares speak out against their propaganda. Furthermore, this article once again demonstrates that the New York Times opinion section seeks to uphold its reputation as what Daily Wire's Andrew Klavan describes as Knucklehead Row™.