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Savoring free speech

Republican frontrunner Dr. Ben Carson has made the news quite often with his controversial, and frankly disturbing, comments. Whether it is comparing abortion to slavery, or stating that if Jews had more guns during the rise of Nazi Germany, then the Holocaust would’ve never happened. Not only do these statements demonstrate his ineptness with history, they illustrate his lack of judgment in favor of scoring political points with the most extreme factions in his party’s base. Unfortunately, this has helped him. One of the many reasons the GOP constituency supports Carson is because he is not a Washington politician or insider. Instead he relies upon his campaign director, Barry Bennet, a long-time Washington political operative to push forward his ever-growing campaign. Right now, Carson has surpassed Trump in a CBS national poll.

Republicans push the ideology of a small government, but only when it fits their terms. Take, for example, foreign policy. The Republican candidates see the United States spending more money than any other country in the world as not enough. This isn’t small government. When the Republicans tell women what they can or cannot do with their bodies, this isn’t small government. When gay people want to marry and Kim Davis says no, some Republican candidates cheered this government intervention. When Ben Carson tells us he believes Muslims are not equipped to hold office and should renounce their faith upon entering office, he is not a believer in small government. The list goes on, with the hypocrisy never ending.

One of the most recent and outrageous things Carson has said to date is his proposal to cut federal funding for universities that have an “extreme political bias” on campus. Now, I haven’t a clue what this even means. What is an extreme political bias? How does he intend to circumvent that feisty part of our Constitution called free speech? And how does this proposal fit into his definition of a small government? Not only will this ludicrous proposal never work, it should bar him from any office, ever. If you can’t understand the basic principles of our country, Ben Carson, you don’t deserve to lead it.

To be fair, this attack on university students to express opinions and stand up for what they believe in goes across all party lines. Democrat Dick Durbin, a senator from Illinois, just commended the University of Illinois for refusing to hire Steven Salaita after he criticized Israel. This is not an isolated incident as we see University of California and its 10 campuses are, according to Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, “attempting to adopt new speech codes that — in the name of combating ‘anti-Semitism’—would formally ban various forms of Israel criticism and anti-Israel activism.”

Richard Blum, who is on the Board of Regents at UC, said his wife, California Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein, is prepared to be critical of UC if it does not adopt new speech codes. Greenwald went on to say, “As campus First Amendment lawyer Ari Cohn put it the following day, ‘Feinstein and her husband think college students should be expelled for protected free speech.’”

This is a clear infringement on free speech from both Republicans and Democrats. This gross and unconstitutional censorship will not help us deal with any of the issues at hand, whether it’s regarding Israel or any other topic. As long as politicians and those in power continue to label critics of Israel as anti-Semitic, or think they have the power to restrict “extreme political bias,” we will have to fight them even harder on these issues. Since Obama became president, more U.S. citizens have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act than all previous presidents combined. I want a government that fights for the people and is responsible. We can fight this government overreach by being honest with ourselves and continuing our dissidence.   

Mark Kobzik is a junior majoring in English/Journalism.

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