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Free Speech Executive Order I: Conservative Arguments

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President Trump recently signed an executive order directing federal agencies to link funding for higher education to how universities enforce “free inquiry” on campus. This order was motivated by the claim that professors have endeavored to prevent conservatives from challenging the ideology of the far-left. At this time, the details of how the order will be implemented are lacking. Image Credit Since I am often cast as a lefty, it would be expected that I oppose this order. However, I will not be arguing this matter from a leftist perspective. Rather, I will advance arguments enshrined in classic conservative principles in opposition to this order. One key principle professed by conservatives is the idea of small government. This principle is supposed to manifest in opposition to unnecessary laws, in opposition to government overreach, and in support of local governance. This executive order clearly violates this principle. First, the order is utterly unnecessary as a means of protecting free speech on college campuses. While some universities have endeavored to keep controversial conservatives and speakers like Richard Spencer off their campuses, the existing free speech laws have sufficed to thwart these efforts. In the case of Richard Spencer, the University of Florida had to let him speak on campus (and the state paid for the security). In the case of public institutions, the first amendment protections apply—thus making it clear that the executive order is attempting to order what already exists: legally protected free expression. It might be objected that private universities that receive public money would still be free to exclude people from speaking on campus. The easy and obvious conservative reply is that these private universities are private. So, like any private business, they have no legal obligation to provide avenues for free speech. There are, of course, some exceptions—but these are covered by existing laws. Second, the order. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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