Pro: UCONN Hosts Controversial Speakers

The First Amendment guarantees every person the freedom to express him or herself, his or her values, and to gather peacefully. Protests, assemblies and speech are facets of American life that many of us cannot imagine living without. But, the second someone with opposing views from us tries to use that right, we often forget how important it is, and that we use it so often.

UCONN was criticized  after Turning Point USA, a conservative non-profit with a chapter on the university’s campus, announced they would host Charlie Kirk, the group’s founder, and Candace Owens. A mass shooter in Christchurch, New Zealand, named Owens as a major influence in a manifesto after he killed 50 people in attacks on two mosques.

Turning Point USA has encouraged students with anti-Muslim rhetoric. This idea is spread to audiences when the group tours, for example when the director of Israel and Jewish outreach Sophia Witt said in a Florida conference that the only good muslim was a “non practicing” one. This ideology is alarming, and with hate crimes happening globally, outrage is nothing but earned and understood.

And yet the group has every right to speak on campus.

I am not saying I agree with their ideas, or support their cause, but  it is their right to express their political and social views even if it conflicts with yours. You don’t have to agree with them, you don’t even have to listen, but you have to give them space, and as long as they “peaceably” assemble, they are well within their rights.

What if you weren’t allowed to speak against them? Or if your expression of the opposing view was squashed because members of Turning Point USA didn’t agree with what you said? You would be angry, and quick to defend your own First Amendment rights.

If we are going to blame Owens for the Christchurch shooting then, we would have to blame ourselves for the suppression of another person’s rights.