Guest Blog by David French
Look, I love speech.
I’m a free speech attorney and work every day to preserve the
marketplace of ideas on campus, but I also like to see students speak for a purpose. I like to see speech and activism that
It will always be important to raise your voice to address
the great issues of our time, to counter the impression that “young people” are
all marching in lockstep with the Left.
So young activists can and should address great issues of war and peace,
macroeconomics, health care, and social policy.
But should “speaking out” be your primary goal? After all, you’re hopefully beginning a
lifetime of responsible advocacy, training for the time when you just might
have a chance to have a real impact on those national issues. So why not learn how to create change right now?
Why not challenge
speech codes on your campus?
Why not challenge unlawful
and biased student fee policies?
Why not fight for the
freedom to speak in all the public spaces on campus rather than be confined
to tiny and arbitrary speech zones?
What does it mean to get results, to defeat the
opposition? Policy changes are obviously
measurable, but so are – if you really hit a home run – justifiable
personnel changes (such as employees being fired for breaking the law) or
The bottom line? Have
a concrete goal for your advocacy. Argue
about Israel and Gaza, yes, but don’t have your eyes so set on the horizon that
you forget about the abuses right in front of your face. Then pursue your goal relentlessly,
ethically, and reasonably. Don’t let
yourself be deterred, and don’t be afraid to take your case to the courts (if
appropriate) or to the public. Be
prepared to endure
scorn. And don’t be afraid to
fail. Along with the thrill
of victory sometimes comes the agony of defeat.
If you just “speak out,” then you may never change the
culture – on campus or elsewhere. But if
you actually defeat the left, then you not only create a concrete change in
your community, you also begin to discredit the very ideology that spawned the
And that’s what we’ll discuss tomorrow.