Campus Free Speech

Brown University Students: Free Markets, Free Speech Enable 'White Supremacist and Fascist Ideas'

Activists protest conservative Guy Benson, but event proceeds as planned.


Guy Benson
Gage Skidmore

Conservative writer Guy Benson gave a talk at Brown last night, to the disappointment of student-activists who had released a statement opposing his presence.

The students declared that Benson, an editor at Townhall and co-author of End of Discussion, a book about leftist hostility to free speech, is a supporter of "fiscal conservatism and free market ideology," which "enable white supremacist and fascist ideas."

In defense of their position, the students cited a Salon article about the left's current favorite subject: the horrors of "neoliberalism." For the past year, I've been tailing student activists and parsing their belief system, and I can indeed testify to the fact that passionate opposition to neoliberalism is one of their main ideological positions. The meaning of neoliberalism shifts around a lot, but lately it has often meant moderate Democrats like Bill and Hillary Clinton—or Jonathan Chait and Vox—who they regard as little better than conservatives. In supporting free speech protections for people who hold abhorrent views, these liberals are seen as essentially traitors.

And Benson, a conservative, is empowering hate, in the activists' view:

Arguments like Benson's enable white supremacist and fascist ideas to fester and flourish by defending the speech of already empowered people over and above any concern for justice or histories of violence.

How does Benson's claim to free speech and his dismissal of the racism at the heart of 'free' speech debates, help our community heal, learn, and grow? OUR institution cannot simultaneously honor this speaker and claim a commitment to change.

On Twitter, Chait remarked that the activists were "admirably clear about their belief Republicans have no right to free speech. None of the usual obfuscation here." Indeed, speech-negative students often fall in to two camps: an "obfuscation" camp that claims to support free speech but treats all speech unfriendly to the activists' goals as not actually free speech but hate speech, which they consider a form of violence; and another camp that simply rejects the idea that the oppressors—defined as anyone opposed to the activists—deserve free speech rights. The Benson critics seem to fall into the latter, purer camp.

Nevertheless, Benson's event went off without a hitch. A small contingent staged a walkout, which Benson noted is "a perfectly acceptable response to speech one may deem objectionable."

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  1. A small contingent staged a walkout, which Benson noted is “a perfectly acceptable response to speech one may deem objectionable.”


    1. Of course they’re within their rights to do it, but it’s still tacky to show up for a speech for the sole purpose of walking out.

      1. It’s the Left, they get graded on a curve. Anything short of physically assaulting the other side is at least a B.

      2. Half of us subscribe to Reason just so we can cancel!

  2. Tolerant people do not tolerate intolerance, and any disagreement is intolerance. After all, hatred and intolerance is the only possible explanation for disagreeing with a tolerant person. Tolerant people have good motivations. If you disagree then you have evil motivations. It is the only possible explanation.

    1. Also, tolerant people shouldn’t be forced to tolerate intolerance just to prove they’re tolerant.

      1. Tolerating intolerance is intolerant! Tolerance means being intolerant of intolerance! Don’t you know anything?

        1. That’s a tolerable impression. Good job!

        2. Is this a power of two rule? I can’t tolerate intolerance, but can tolerate intolerance of intolerance, but not tolerate intolerance of intolerance of intolerance?

          1. Uh… yes?

            1. Saying yes to yes is one thing, saying no to no is something else again.

              1. But saying “yes” to “no” is…rape?

                1. Maybe…

    2. You are clearly intolerant of intolerance. I find this intolerable, and will not tolerate further discussion on the matter.

      1. *sigh* out sarc’ed by sarcasmic.

    3. Ah! You’ve said those words too many times and now they sound weird.

      1. Yeah, he talks like a fag and his shit’s all retarded.

        1. Your what hurts?

        2. Don’t worry, scrote. There are plenty of ‘tards out there living really kick-ass lives. My first wife was ‘tarded. She’s a pilot now.

  3. A small contingent staged a walkout, which Benson noted is “a perfectly acceptable response to speech one may deem objectionable.”

    If you don’t like what you see here ….

  4. David Ziff? @djsziff
    Replying to @jonathanchait

    This is not a good letter. But the speech is happening. The letter was signed by 18 students. At what point does “college student has a bad take” stop being national news?

    Or even regional news. I get that it’s fun to see the machinations of those lacking the experience or intellect to understand the ultimate consequences of their own worldviews and ridicule them, but these are just college students and college students, while now adults, tend to be stupid about almost everything.

    1. I’d really like to know how many of these outrage incidents are generated by just a few thin-skinned people, whose attitude is amplified by constant repetition by conservative (or libertarian) blowback. At least we know *something* happened in this particular case, but a lot of controversy (outrage followed by blowback) occurs as a result of tweets and blogs, and we can’t even know if those are not the product of trolls.

      1. generated by just a few thin-skinned people

        Perhaps, but their belief system is now the standard lefty platform in every MSM outlet and college admin office – it hardly needs our help to amplify it. It’s the standard.

      2. Amplified by the modern web, where every one of us is connected to every other one of us; rage and incitement catalyze exponentially more people than ever before.

        I want to think that in 20 more years, society will have adjusted to the hyper-connected world we live in now. But I wonder.

    2. Because they are our future elites.

      1. *hr department

  5. “neoliberal” = the free trade policies of Bill Clinton, Obama, and the old GOP before the Dotard transformed it into a white nationalist party.

    Needless to say these Brown students are all morons.

    1. Neoliberal = “new” socialists who stole the liberal term from classical liberals like the Founding Fathers.

      Lefties will try and dismiss the ever-increasing Libertarian movement by changing words.

    2. It lets them feel that the Clintons and Obamas are closer to Bush and Trump than they are to Saint Bernie, which is n objectively preposterous position. Or maybe they just don’t like people who win elections.

  6. Brown is the color of shit.

  7. Screw trying to address these “infants” with calm, rational debate.
    Go straight to withering and unrelenting public mockery.

    1. Go straight to withering and unrelenting public mockery.

      That’s probably the only form of argumentation they understand.

  8. Neoliberal: someone who likes free markets and private property rights slightly more than your average R1 university humanities professor.

  9. I enjoy the cognitive dissonance of people claiming respect for free speech is “fascism”.

    If these people are being open on what they are about and it scares off people who may agree, that is good. If they are removing the mask and attract more followers then we have future problems as a free society.

    1. Makes sense. The lefty snowflakes don’t even know what fascism means but they practice fascism every day.

  10. A small contingent staged a walkout

    These kinds of disruptions infringe on the free speech of the speaker. They deprive the speaker of his right to be heard. Free speech is at risk in our nation and we need better laws to protect it.

    1. Depends on how disruptive they are during the walkout.

    2. They deprive the speaker of his right to be heard.

      There is no right to be heard. That’s preposterous.


      1. I think that was intended as sarcasm.

  11. I spent some time at Brown in the early 1990s. All I can say is that nothing has changed there in 25+ years. In fact, all of this shit about hate speech and false accusations of sexual assault seems to have originated there. There were student groups trying to shut down speakers and lists of “men who rape” on the women’s bathroom walls.

  12. As an openly gay conservative, Benson is more on the margins than anyone protesting him!

    1. Fabulous!

    2. I’m surprised that only 18 students at Brown recognized the existential threat Benson poses to the progressive left’s entire belief system, simply by virtue of his existence.

  13. “In defense of their position, the students cited a Salon article…” That’s enough for me.

    1. Yeah, when you’re citing Salon to back up your argument you’re clearly not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

      1. I will voluntarily commit myself to a mental hospital if I ever voluntarily read a Salon article.

  14. Federal funding should disappear for shenanigans like this.

  15. I do hope liberals get over the screeching toddler strategy of winning friends and influencing people sometime soon.

    You’d think with such hypervigilance, this wing of the movement would realize how much they were had by Putin in 2016 and be appropriately humble about lecturing the rest of us about who’s an acceptable politician.

  16. When is Robby too old to cover the college beat?

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  18. broke: ” a supporter of “fiscal conservatism and free market ideology,”
    woke: “which “enable white supremacist and fascist ideas.””

    its like the term “enable” is some magical-springboard which allows people to leap over any requirement for ‘reasoned argument’ or ‘common sense’

    progs love these weak claims like “enable”, “contributes”, “aids in”, “often associated with”, “creates and environment of” etc…. because they just fucking leapfrog past any need to claim a direct relationship, and allow the speaker to simply take A and B and declare there’s some ‘general relationship’ which is enough to justify their own hysterical counter-narrative.

    1. Rebuttal:

      “In defense of their position, the students cited a Salon article ”


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