“CNN Tonight” anchor Don Lemon said college students “should not be coddled by retreating into so-called ‘safe spaces’ because they’re afraid of having their feelings hurt. If you’re afraid of having your feelings hurt, don’t leave your house” in an audio commentary released on blackamericaweb.com on Thursday.
Lemon said that “even the NFL could learn from the Mizzou players who stood up for what they believed in.”
He added, “the only issue I have with what happened at the University of Missouri is their vigorous effort to squash freedom of speech and freedom of the press. And as a journalist, that really bothers me, because this is a very, very dangerous road that no one should want to go down.”
Lemon, after playing a clip of professor Melissa Click and some students trying to keep reporters from covering the protests, said, “Mizzou has one of the most well-respected journalism programs in the country, in the world, as you said. Students there should know that in America, a country with a free and open press, that it is dangerous to deny anyone that freedom. In fact, it is un-American. It is also equally as dangerous, and limiting, and short-sighted to only speak, associate, and engage with people or news organizations with whom you agree. Freedom fighters like Dr. King and Malcom X quite often and on purpose, would run right into the lion’s den to engage with people with whom they didn’t necessarily agree, or care for. Why? Because they weren’t afraid of confrontation; of being challenged. They weren’t afraid of being offended. They weren’t afraid of offending. They knew the real meaning of freedom of the press, freedom of speech and expression.”
He continued, “Students should be safe from physical harm and threats anywhere; especially on college campuses. But they should not be coddled by retreating into so-called ‘safe spaces’ because they’re afraid of having their feelings hurt. If you’re afraid of having your feelings hurt, don’t leave your house. College is the place where robust debate should be welcomed and vigorously explored. It is the field trip before the real world. In the real world, people’s feelings are hurt every single day. No one on my job agrees with me every — agrees with everything I say, and guess what, I’m not offended by it. I expect, and I even welcome it. And speaking as a black person in America, considering the history of this country, if anyone should fight tooth and nail for free speech and a free and open press, it should be black people. Just as you cannot control how people will receive your message, you should not try to control who tells it. If any one group should know better, it should be black people. That footage from Bloody Sunday on The Edmund Pettus Bridge near Selma, broadcast nationwide by a free and open press, outraged a country, and embarrassed a President, to enact expansive legislation that allowed our people to be able to attend that very university where you’re protesting. The people who got the crap kicked out of them, who were fire hosed, and attacked by dogs, and some who even died, did it without the luxury of a so-called ‘safe space.’ The leaders of that movement that propelled us into this moment, where we are right now, they did it through wit, grit, and wisdom, not through shutting people out.”
Lemon later added that “free speech…is there to protect unpopular speech, not what you agree with.” He further argued that it is “outrageous” that the school asked students to report hurtful speech to the police.
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