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  • Don't Just Speak . . . Defeat

    2/25/2010 1:03:57 PM Posted by Roger Custer

    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 generate results.French

    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 even acts of Congress.

    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 bad policies.

    And that’s what we’ll discuss tomorrow.

    • Readers' Comments

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