McKissick: It’s not conservatives being censored, it’s misinformation

Nathaniel McKissick

Conservative author and commentator Ann Coulter speaks at the University of Colorado, Boulder’s campus on March 21, 2018. Coulter was invited by CU’s Turning Point USA Chapter to speak to students and community members. In her speech, Coulter spoke on topics such as immigration and liberal ideologies. (Colin Shepherd | Collegian Archive)

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

For years, people have denounced college campuses as institutions that silence and censor conservative students and activists. Some claim that colleges are places of liberal indoctrination and that conservatives lack a voice in academic environments. 

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These claims of censorship are simply exaggerated, if not artificially manufactured, and are often an act of self-censorship.

Matthew Hitt, an associate professor in the political science department at Colorado State University, said that he has had his fair share of students who self-censor their work to protect their politically controversial perspectives, but experts on the matter suggest there is no evidence professors present a noticeable bias against any political standpoint.

“In my career, I don’t know of any evidence that professors actually systematically bias their grading against one political viewpoint or others,” Hitt said. 

The fact of the matter is that these people aren’t barred from returning to college campuses or protested because they are conservatives but because they are disingenuous liars.”

As far as the silencing of conservative activists goes, the true context of the matter is apolitical and has more to do with silencing those that spread misinformation, bigotry and lies.

Conservatives cite isolated incidents in which students protested the assembly of conservative speakers on college campuses. Go-to references include the event cancelations of two conservative speakers at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2017: Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter. 

In early 2018, CSU had our very own political squabble when conservative activist Charlie Kirk gave a speech at the Lory Student Center. Supporters and denouncers of Kirk gathered outside of the building to – rather pointedly – discuss political ideas.

Man speaks to audience.
Charlie Kirk speaks to the audience on Feb. 2, 2018, during his Smashing Socialism event. (Anna Baize | Collegian Archive)

Things escalated, protests turned violent and a little over a year later, in October 2019, Kirk returned with a fellow spreader of misinformation and son of former President Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr. 

Kirk has tweeted illegitimate statistics about human trafficking and in 2020 made some outrageous claims about the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting a coverup by the World Health Organization and questioning the effectiveness of face coverings. After scientists argued otherwise, Kirk claimed that hydroxychloroquine was 100% effective in combatting the virus.

Trump Jr. and Coulter have participated in their fair share of spreading lies and misinformation, too. Alongside Kirk, they both stoked false fears of widespread voter fraud and a stolen election in 2020.

There is no subjectivity in some topics, only fact and fiction.”

Conversely, when liberal speakers are protested or even uninvited by college campuses, it’s over more subjective topics. In 2019, Jennine Capó Crucet, a Latina author, traveled to Georgia Southern University to discuss her book about a fictional, young Hispanic girl living in a white-dominated environment.

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During her panel, one student said Crucet made generalizations about white privilege. A disagreement broke out among students attending, and after her speech, white GSU students burned a copy of her book.

In 2004, Nancy Snyderman’s invitation to the University of Saint Francis was revoked over comments she made on abortion. In 2017, at Whittier College, Donald Trump supporters heckled former Attorney General of California, Xavier Becerra, after he filed a lawsuit challenging Trump’s rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program.

Racism is a very real phenomenon — one that runs deep in America’s history, but the concept of white privilege — and just how much it affects people — is still argued about today.

Changes to immigration policies and one’s thoughts on abortion are subjective in nature. These are complex issues defined by personal experiences and values.

After all, these activists are not silenced based on their political leanings but because they knowingly spread misinformation.”

However, many of the topics discussed by the conservative speakers I mentioned above are disprovable, outright lies. There is no subjectivity in some topics, only fact and fiction.

Donald Trump Jr. is interviewed after his father’s Feb. 20, 2020 campaign rally in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Matt Tackett | Collegian Archive)

The fact of the matter is these people aren’t barred from returning to college campuses or protested because they are conservatives but because they are disingenuous liars. They are disavowed by people for their bigotry and lies, not the way they vote.

If I were a conservative and I saw a political activist promoting ideas of white supremacy, homophobia, sexism or antisemitism, I would want to distance myself from them, not blindly defend them from being censored.

After all, these activists are not silenced based on their political leanings but because they knowingly spread misinformation. Rather than fighting a contrived war against college campuses, conservatives should focus on the fact that their peers are more likely than liberals to believe and spread conspiracy theories.

Nathaniel McKissick can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @NateMcKissick.