Why would a journalism center reject free speech?

By Aaron Rice
November 8, 2019

A minor controversy erupted at Ole Miss last night when news began to spread that the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics had rescinded the invitation of Elisha Krauss. The administration then fired back saying this was a unilateral decision and welcomed Krauss to campus.

Krauss is a conservative commentator, writer, and podcaster. She is a host and contributor at Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire. Krauss previously hosted a morning show in Los Angeles with Shapiro for four years and produced the syndicated Sean Hannity Radio Show for seven years. She has also worked with Truth Revolt, PragerU, and ran a congressional campaign. She certainly has a conservative background, but also someone who has spent considerable time in the larger world of journalism.

The event was hosted by Young America’s Foundation. 

According to the Overby Center, they do not allow “ideological” speakers at the Overby Center. Without passing judgments, you can review their spring 2019 schedule and decide for yourself if you find any of those speakers to be ideological. 

My guess is if there is someone you agree with, they are not ideological. If you don’t agree, they are definitely ideological. That is how our brains work. And why we shouldn’t have arbitrary rules, particularly unwritten rules. 

But it’s more than just that. Why is a school that has journalism in its name rejecting any speaker based on ideology, even if it is true that they have also turned down liberals? Shouldn’t this be the one place, at a minimum, where free speech is encouraged and debate is welcomed? Is this not what we are teaching young journalism students?

Shouldn’t we want as many different opinions as we can find, even if we disagree with what the speaker is saying? Would that not be better for everyone?

We can go on forever about why we must defend free speech, something that has gone out of fashion with a large segment of our society. But when you do that, you also no longer have to make personal judgments on who is or isn’t ideological. 

At the end of the day, Ole Miss made the right call in overruling the decision of a few. It just should have never come to that.

Note: The original story said the Ole Miss School of Journalism and New Media cancelled the event when it was the Overby Center.


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