Higher learning or higher yearning? | News Stream

Question: What in the world does free speech have to do with America’s colleges and universities? Answer: Not a whole helluva lot these days, I’m afraid. You know what I’m talking about, but if you don’t let’s play a little word association game.

If I say the words, UC Berkeley, for example, what do you think of? What about the names Ann Coulter or Milo Yiannopolous? OK, what about UNM? Anything come to mind?

If you said, “Free speech and First Amendment rights” you win the prize (unless of course you are a conservative and have a different opinion than those on America’s campuses that have mastered the art of censorship).

I have a young friend that graduated from UNM last year, and we recently had lunch together. Being the curious sort, I asked Cary (not his real name) about what things were like on its main campus with respect to free speech. He was a bit reluctant to spill the beans, but after getting an assurance from me that I would keep his identity secret, he opened up.

Before I tell you what he said, let me express my sadness that we’re losing this fine young man to a major city on the East Coast. He doesn’t feel that he can use his education in New Mexico because of our pitiful job market and feels the need to ‘spread his wings’ and escape the gravitational pull of our small-mindedness.

It’s too bad, because Cary’s a man with unusual optimism and a keen entrepreneurial spirit — just the kind of person we need here. He told me that he felt very hesitant to speak his mind on campus, that the peer pressure of a dominant liberal culture there was preventing him from attending certain events or being a member of certain organizations.

This attitude, whether expressed at UNM or at any university is antithetical to the raison d’être of an institute of higher learning where critical…

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