New Film Details Threats to Free Speech on College Campuses

John Fund wrote in National Review yesterday about "No Safe Spaces," a film by conservative commentator Dennis Prager and comedian Adam Carolla. The film describes how politically correct culture on college campuses is threatening free speech, suppressing dissent from the prevailing liberal view, and undermining our cultural value for free expression:

“Colleges don’t protect students from 90 percent of the professors who teach them the following: Your past was terrible, and your future is terrible. You are victims,” commentator Dennis Prager, who teamed up with comedian Adam Carolla to make the film, told me. The two make a bit of an odd couple. Prager is a highly trained Jewish religious scholar, and Carolla is a college dropout and atheist who was raised by a single mom on welfare. “Where we agree is that more debate is better, more diversity of opinion is helpful, and our First Amendment is a unique gift to America,” says Carolla.

Americans aren’t blind to the hurt that genuine “hate speech” can cause. The Cato survey found that eight out of ten Americans say it’s “morally unacceptable” to say hateful things about racial or religious groups. But a greater number than before want to go further. Cato found that 40 percent of adults believe that government should prevent hate speech in public.

The problem, of course, is that what the organized Left means by “hate speech” is a constantly moving target. NRO’s Katherine Timpf has documented the ever-expanding examples of language that must be curbed: Saying “God bless you” is declared an aggression against Islam, a sign honoring Union Civil War general Joseph Hooker is deemed offensive to women, and a school district removes the word “chief” from job titles because it might offend indigenous peoples. . . .

But while the film was certainly made by conservatives, it goes out of its way to appeal to people across the political spectrum and demonstrate to them that the First Amendment needs defending. Among the people interviewed in the film are Princeton professor Cornel West, civil-libertarian lawyer Alan Dershowitz, and former Obama-administration czar Van Jones. Jones, host of his own show on CNN, pungently asserts in the film: “I want every student on campus to be physically safe. But if you mean emotionally safe? I don’t know why you’re in college.”

The film's website describes the purpose of the film, which gives examples of suppression of speech and differing viewpoints on campuses around the country:

The First Amendment and the very idea of free speech are under attack in America today. A growing number of Americans don't believe you have the right to speak your mind if what you have to say might offend someone, somewhere. They advocate for "safe spaces" in which people won't be offended by ideas they may find troubling. But is that what America is about?

In NO SAFE SPACES, comedian and podcast king Adam Carolla and radio talk show host Dennis Prager travel the country, talking to experts and advocates on the left and right, tour college campuses, and examine their own upbringings to try to understand what is happening in America today and what free speech in this country should look (and sound) like.

We trust that this film will shed light and spark a larger conversation on how colleges and universities are suppressing speech. These colleges and universities are creating a hostile environment for viewpoints that differ from the increasingly radical, progressive dogma. While training our future leaders, many colleges and universities are creating citizens that value emotional safety and homogenous group-think over the free exchange of ideas, thereby threatening the very foundation of our Republic.