Social justice protests have been roiling American universities, even causing administrative heads to roll. To a significant degree, these campus uprisings have been characterized by an impulse to restrict speech and expression for the sake of creating “safe spaces” for marginalized groups. However, speech restriction is a double-edged sword that can just as easily injure the very people campus activists seek to help.
The turmoil at the University of Missouri (Mizzou) in particular was sparked by racial incidents. And the protesters are closely aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement, which combats police brutality against black Americans. However, cops themselves have recently sought to restrict speech and expression in order to insulate that very brutality from criticism.
As William N. Grigg wrote last year:
“The NYPD has now added its name to the roster of Officially Protected Victims by filing ‘hate crimes’ charges against 36-year-old Rosella Best, who had tagged police vehicles and a public school with anti-NYPD graffiti. Among the entirely defensible sentiments inscribed by Best are ‘NYPD pick on the harmless,’ ‘NYPD pick on the innocent,’ and?–?in a display of familiar but increasingly justified hyperbole?–?‘NAZIS=NYPD.’ (Assuming that Ms. Best used only ‘public’ property as her canvas, it’s difficult to identify an actual victim in this case.)”
And earlier this year, the Fraternal Order of Police demanded that Congress extend such special protection to the federal level.