Princeton op-ed argues: Conservatives have no right to free speech

An op-ed published late last month in the Princeton University student newspaper argues that conservatives do not have a right to free speech, Campus Reform reported Friday.

According to Campus Reform:

Princeton student Ryan Born argued in his op-ed for The Daily Princetonian that “when conservatives appeal to ‘free speech,'” it is safe to ignore them, since “they are appealing to a right that does not exist.”

“In my belief, when conservative ideas are opposed, there is no right that is being infringed,” he adds.

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Notably, an editor’s working comments were accidentally left in the print edition of The Princetonian, showing that even the paper’s allegedly left-leaning editors were uneasy with the argument.

“I don’t think this makes sense,” the editor wrote next to Born’s comments, asking that he add “in my belief” to the sentence.

If there’s any question what this philosophy student means, consider this snippet (Emphasis added):

As seen with many conservative groups, such as the Princeton Open Campus Coalition, conservatives are interested in being able to propose their ideas without any political opposition to their right to speech. I am not arguing that conservatives do not expect intellectual opposition to their content; instead, I am arguing against their right to be heard and accepted.

That pretty much sums it up…

Campus Reform added:

“Because ‘free speech’ is a cornerstone of our rights under the Constitution, it can appear that conservatives’ socially free speech has this constitutional tradition as its backbone,” he continues, but contends that conservative speech “is something much different” because “conservatives are interested in being able to propose their ideas without any political opposition to their right to speech.”

Born goes on to contend that “if conservative arguments were strong, they would be convincing, and if they were convincing, they would not meet political opposition,” and conservatives would consequently not need to rely on appeals to free speech.

“If the only justification conservatives can offer for their ideas is that they merely exist, then let me say as Trotsky did: ‘You are miserable bankrupts, your role is played out; go where you ought to go—into the dustbin of history!'” he declares.

The op-ed sparked two responses, Campus Reform said — one from a student and another from a professor.

“After seeing an article that quickly called to completely dismiss many of my viewpoints, many of my friends’ viewpoints, many people whom I haven’t met yet; an article that conflated us with some of the most criminal men in human history; and one that was all over the place with its claims, logic—and accusations, really—it was something that I wanted to publish a response to,” said student Nicholas Sileo, adding he “wanted to try to show, especially to the incoming Class of 2021, that this isn’t what the university is about.”

Sileo also told Campus Reform that the paper had edited out a postscript, in which he agreed with Born’s editor.

“I don’t think that your argument makes sense either. While I support your right to speak freely, let me say as Trotsky did: ‘Technique is noticed most markedly in the case of those who have not mastered it,’” the note reportedly read.

Dr. John Londregan, Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton, who was personally attacked in Born’s piece, also wrote a response.

Londregan, who told Campus Reform his usual inclination is to “forbear rather than publicly single out an undergraduate for criticism,” claims that “the circumstances in this case are special,” calling Born’s article a “lengthy screed” that “groans on, column after column, making a series of increasingly bizarre assertions.”

He further said that Born was “within his First Amendment rights to express his appalling point of view,” but adds that “in each of these possible interpretations of his intent, the rest of us have a moral obligation to condemn what he has said.

“Shame on him!” he concluded. “But rights are rights, and Born has shamefully exercised his right to be wrong.”


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Joe Newby

A 10-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Joe ran for a city council position in Riverside, Calif., in 1991 and managed successful campaigns for the Idaho state legislature. Co-author of "Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad," Joe wrote for Examiner.com from 2010 until it closed in 2016 and his work has been published at Newsbusters, Spokane Faith and Values and other sites. He now runs the Conservative Firing Line.

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