The journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression, but let’s face it: If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down.
Public reaction to the attack in Paris has revealed that there are a lot of people who are quick to lionize those who offend the views of Islamist terrorists in France but who are a lot less tolerant toward those who offend their own views at home.
Just look at all the people who have overreacted to campus micro-aggressions. The University of Illinois fired a professor who taught the Roman Catholic view on homosexuality. The University of Kansas suspended a professor for writing a harsh tweet against the N.R.A. Vanderbilt University derecognized a Christian group that insisted that it be led by Christians.
Americans may laud Charlie Hebdo for being brave enough to publish cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad, but, if Ayaan Hirsi Ali is invited to campus, there are often calls to deny her a podium.
Here’s a good example from the home front, straight from America’s so-called liberal universities:
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who had been invited to give the commencement address at Rutgers University in New Jersey this month, said on Saturday that she would no longer give the speech. Her announcement came after weeks of protests by some students and faculty members over the university’s decision to invite her.
Protesters had argued that Ms. Rice should not have been selected as the speaker because of her involvement in the Iraq war during the Bush administration. Students staged a sit-in last week outside the office of the university’s president, Robert L. Barchi, to protest the speech, scheduled for May 18th.