Former Democratic New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg penned a column for the New York Post this week in which he expressed concern over the state of free speech on college campuses. According to Bloomberg, the campus culture of silencing views that oppose leftist dogma “cannot sustain a liberal democracy.”
Michael Bloomberg is known by many as the politician that advocated for restrictions on the amount of soda New Yorkers could purchase. But now, the former mayor of New York City is concerned about a more legitimate issue. In a column in the New York Post that was published this week, Bloomberg condemned student activists that equate political speech with violence.
Bloomberg specifically condemned academics that refuse to support the Chicago Statement, a set of principles drafted by faculty at the University of Chicago that defends academic freedom and free expression on college campuses. Although many universities around the country have adopted the principles, others have protested their adoption, citing concerns that they will be exploited by those looking to advance dangerous agendas.
The lack of support for the Chicago Statement among leaders in higher education has helped allow intolerance to seep deeper into the culture. The idea that words can be a form of violence, fully as threatening as actual violence, is now commonplace. As a result, the range of views needing to be suppressed, rather than entertained, challenged and refuted, is vast.
Bloomberg went on to argue that democracy is threatened by those that argue that controversial political speech should be censored to protect the “safety” of students.
It makes little difference whether radical intolerance of disagreement is based on an exaggerated desire for “safety” or grounded in a more elaborate, but no less bogus, theory of speech-as-violence. It also doesn’t matter whether it springs from hatred of President Trump or devotion to him. Regardless, this kind of culture cannot sustain a liberal democracy.
The column may result in Bloomberg facing protests from leftist students if he is scheduled to speak on campus in the future.