Four members of his department have expressed “unconditional
support” for his “freedom of expression and First
Amendment rights.” The Faculty Assembly of the university,
though it regards his words as “controversial, offensive,
and odious,” defends his freedom to utter them.
In opposition, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens has called for Churchill’s
resignation, saying that taxpayers should not have to subsidize
Churchill’s “outrageous and insupportable” views.
Both solutions are incompatible with free speech.
Freedom of speech is an individual’s right to express ideas
without coercive interference from the government. Free speech
does protect an individual who voices unpopular ideas from governmental
force, but it does not require that other citizens support him.
If an individual wants others to finance the expression of
his ideas, he must seek their voluntary agreement. To force
person to support ideas he opposes violates his freedom of speech.
A journalist, for instance, has the freedom to write what
he pleases, but he has no right to demand that Time magazine
it. That decision belongs to the owners of Time. Similarly,
a professor has the freedom to teach any view he wishes,
has no right to demand that Harvard employ him. That decision
belongs to the private owners of Harvard.
Freedom of speech is not the right of a Ph.D. to have other
citizens provide him with a university classroom.Yet that
in effect is
what the professors are demanding.They maintain that no matter
how much the citizens who fund public universities may disagree
with a professor’s views, he should be able to continue
to exist on the public dole. Taxpayers are to be stripped of
their right to choose which ideas their money supports. Why?
So that professors can spout whatever theories happen to catch
their fancy—including those that brand productive Americans
as Nazis and Islamic killers as liberators—without the
burden of having to seek the voluntary consent of those forced
to sponsor them.
Under the guise of defending free speech, therefore, the
professors are actually advocating its destruction.But
it is no solution
for the government to put pressure (or worse) on public universities
whenever a professor teaches ideas opposed to the views of a
majority of taxpayers. The moment the government becomes arbiter
of what can and cannot be taught on campus, the moment speech
because subject to majority vote, censorship results.
What then is the answer? Privatize the universities.
The truth is that public education as such is antithetical
to free speech. Whether leftists are forced to pay taxes
universities from which their academic spokesmen are barred (as
Gov. Owens’ solution requires), or non-leftists are forced
to pay taxes to fund professors who condemn America as a terrorist
nation, someone loses the right to choose which ideas his money
By its nature, a public university must make decisions about
what to include in and to exclude from its curriculum. Of necessity,
therefore, some citizens will object to what is being taught
in its classrooms. But they are nevertheless forced to finance
the communication of those ideas.To safeguard the right to freedom
of speech, the right to private property must be safeguarded.
Only private universities can protect free speech. The owners
of a university could then hire the faculty they endorsed, while
others could refuse to fund the university if they disagreed
with its teachings.
However, since privatization would threaten the left’s
grip on the universities—as well as any professor who enjoys
the unearned privilege of spewing out ideas without worrying
about the need to finance their expression—many professors
vehemently oppose this solution. In the name of free speech,
they denounce as “tyranny of the almighty dollar” the
sole means of preserving free speech.
But we must not be fooled by this cry from the professors about
their freedom of speech. Freedom is precisely what they don’t
advocate. We are right in objecting to being forced to fund their
ideas, loathsome or otherwise. The only solution is a free market