Comedian Adam Carolla and the Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday to discuss and “identify the harms of infringing on the right to free speech on college campuses” and give “recommendations on how to encourage and protect First Amendment rights.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who chaired the hearing, began by showing a video of recent campus riots and protests led by leftist students and activist groups. The intent of each incident was to shut down free speech either through shouting down ideological opponents or threatening physical danger.
“This is where it all ends. You start with safe spaces … and it ends with students holding hostage the president of a university. That’s why we’re having this hearing,” Jordan said, noting the incident at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, when social justice activist students issued specific demands of President George Bridges.
Shapiro, being a regular speaker on college campuses, testified to the fact that he had personally witnessed intimidation and violence in the name of silencing free speech on campuses around the U.S. Shapiro noted that, for many of the social justice obsessed, expression of differing opinion is considered actual violence and that physical violence is often justified by those offended by opposing opinions.
“In order to understand what’s been going on at some of our college campuses, it’s necessary to explore the ideology that provides the impetus for a lot of the protesters who violently obstruct events, pull fire alarms, assault professors, and even other students, and the impetus for administrators who all too often humor these protesters,” Shapiro said.
“The first step is that they say that the validity or invalidity of an argument can be judged solely by the ethnic, sexual, racial or cultural identity of the person making the argument,” Shapiro continued.
He said that the second step is to suggest that “those who claim otherwise are engaging in what they call verbal violence,” and the last step is to “conclude that physical violence is sometimes justified in order to stop such verbal violence.”
Shapiro concluded that the value of an argument no longer relies on its merit, but how victimized the person making the argument can claim they are.
Carolla also testified, recalling the days when he would tour college campuses and opposing ideas were welcome. Carolla said recently he attempted a tour with conservative radio show host Dennis Prager and college administrators refused to allow their speeches on campus.
The comedian suggested that today’s strategy of putting students into a safe bubble and believing this bubble will make them stronger is not having the desired effect.
“We need the adults to start being the adults. Our plan is to put them in a bubble, keep them away from everything, and somehow they’ll come out stronger when they emerge from the bubble. Well that’s not happening,” Carolla said. “Could the faculty and administrators on these campuses act like faculty and administration?”
This is reportedly the second hearing in a series dedicated to protecting the First Amendment. According to Campus Reform, Jordan said that he hopes in future hearings college students will testify to what they’ve seen and heard on campuses where free speech obstruction occurs.
A handful of incidents have occurred recently where social justice advocates have attempted to silence free speech.
In April, students at Pomona College in California blocked speaker Heather MacDonald from giving a lecture, claiming that she was spreading racism and bigotry. Students physically blocked the entrance to the building where she was to speak and pushed back anyone who wandered too close.
In May, students at the University of California in Santa Cruz took over a building on campus and barred the doors with chains and furniture. The students said they would occupy the building until a list of demands had been met. The students also threatened to take over more buildings on the campus should the college administration fail to cave to their demands.
The Evergreen State College campus in Washington has been a hotbed of violence and intimidation. Earlier this month, faculty and students testified before the college’s board of trustees about the hostile climate that has been created by social justice warriors on campus, including violence and racial discrimination.