Left-leaning student activists at Oberlin College hung posters at the Christina Hoff Sommers event earlier this week that identified the students involved in bringing the individualist-feminist and AEI scholar to campus.
Each poster gave the name of a specific student-member of the Oberlin College Republicans and Libertarians and accused that person of perpetuating rape culture.
Images of the posters were sent to Reason via a source who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation. The last names of the students identified by the posters were blurred before Reason received them.
According to the source, a group of approximately 10 student-activists were behind the posters.
They have the right to denounce their fellow students as perpetuators of rape culture, I suppose, though the fact that some students would smear others with this charge for merely bringing a speaker to campus is disappointing. Do students no longer recognize that the entire point of challenge is to grapple with new and different ways of thinking about the world?
Over at The Washington Post, David Bernstein wonders when—and how—the idea of seeking physical safety from uncomfortable ideas arose on college campuses:
Just today I learned (via Hans Bader) that Oberlin, supposedly one of the great liberal arts colleges in the world, has been in a tizzy because of a speech by the rather mainstream conservative feminist Christina Hoff Summers, which supposedly made students feel "unsafe" well in advance. And so on.
In no examples that I have seen has there been any actual threat or prospect of violence against the students complaining that they feel "unsafe."
This is a huge threat to the future of free speech nevertheless. Today's college students are going to be tomorrow's judges, and if they truly believe that "safety" means "never having to deal with opinions that disagree with one's cherished beliefs," then censorship has a good chance of gaining the upper hand over freedom of speech. After all, public safety can be a justification for suppressing speech, as with the "fighting words" doctrine.
Read Reason's interview with Sommers about the event here.