The Free Market Place of Ideas: Why It Matters

“Free-speech protections—not only but especially in universities, which aim to educate students in how to belong to various communities—should not mean that someone’s humanity, or their right to participate in political speech as political agents, can be freely attacked, demeaned or questioned.”

Liberal pundit Ulrich Baer recently made this claim in his recent NY Times op-ed titled, “What ‘Snowflakes’ Got Right About Free Speech.”

His argument’s implications are frightening, to say the least.

To prove his point, Baer references the transgender movement and how supposedly “in politics, the parameters of public speech must be continually redrawn to accommodate those who previously had no standing.”

He continues: “It is only when trans people are recognized as fully human, rather than as men and women in disguise, as Ben Carson, the current secretary of housing and urban development claims, that their rights can be fully recognized in policy decisions.”

Baer uses the transgender example to make a broader, more disturbing point about free speech: When free speech “offends” an individual or fails to validate the way they see themselves or the world around them, then the “parameters of public speech must be…redrawn.”

In other words, when someone feels hurt or threatened, we ought to redefine what’s truly “acceptable.”

That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Take Ben Carson, who Baer references. Dr. Carson, as a religiously conservative Christian, does not believe in or endorse the transgender movement.

Dr. Carson, however, doesn’t hate transgenders—nor is he out to silence or stifle the transgender community. He simply believes that men are men and women are women. He’s entitled to that belief AND he (and other socially conservative folks) must openly defend those beliefs on a college campus.

Why? Because students must evaluate both sides of the transgender debate, the abortion debate, the healthcare debate, or any other debate with one solid criteria: the validity of the arguments.

Finally, let’s be clear—voicing your belief isn’t license to indiscriminately or actively seek to offend people. That said, certain perspectives on controversial issues will inevitably offend people. To quote Ben Shapiro: “Our disagreement doesn’t make you my victim.”

So the solution to fundamental disagreements about religion, politics, sexuality, healthcare, or anything else isn’t to hire the idea police. It’s to open the free marketplace of ideas and let citizens evaluate ideologies on their argumentative merit.

Read the Baer’s full article here:

(Originally published on AllRight)