Here’s how the right wing cooked up the phony campus free speech crisis
A pro-Trump protester punches a woman during violence in Berkeley, CA (Screen capture)

Comedian Bill Maher — among many others — has sounded off on liberal snowflakes he thinks are against free speech on campuses.


“Believe me, I’ve been a longtime critic of colleges shutting people up,” Maher said in a February 2017 episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher.” The commentary came days after violence broke out at the University of California Berkeley during a visit by professional troll Milo Yiannopoulos. “That is a problem on the left that we need to deal with, very much so. Free speech should be something we own.”

The protests that broke out caused millions of dollars in damage to the university and the town. Other universities, facing an education funding crisis, are fearful of similar costly rallies with safety concerns. Berkeley spent a shocking $4 million on security for three "free speech" events over the course of one month.

But Jeffrey Adam Sachs, writing for the Niskanen Center, argued that the so-called war on free speech is a manufactured crisis created by the right wing -- and liberals are falling for it.

"For us olds, there are few things more pleasurable in life than sh*tting on the young -- especially on college students, with their hacky sack and their animal houses," Sachs wrote on Twitter. "What, just because they haven't ruined their lives yet they think they're better than us?"

A poll funded by the Koch brothers concluded that millennial frustration with hate speech means that they are against free speech. It isn't entirely accurate, as Sachs points out.

"First of all, [a] Cato/YouGov survey asks dozens of other speech related questions and in many of them young people lead the way (e.g. in their support for freedom of the press). While I understand why Stevens and Haidt chose to focus on speech bans, I suspect they would agree that those questions tell us only part of the story."

He went on to explain that surveys actually show that millennials are more supportive of free speech than their elderly counterparts (over 65). In fact, youth are more tolerant of free speech than other older generations.

[caption id="attachment_1267552" align="aligncenter" width="695"] Source: 2017 Cato/YouGov Free Speech and Tolerance Survey
Note: “Don’t know/refused” are excluded.
Figure 1: Support for banning offensive speech[/caption]

"Yes, if you look closely, you will note that iGen’ers are slightly more supportive on average of banning certain types of offensive speech than older generations, but there is no sudden spike or sweeping change. If these numbers are meant to show that iGen’ers are different, you need to really squint to see it," Sachs noted.

You can read Sachs' full explanation discounting the right wing claim free speech is under attack.