Faculty members at the University of Virginia wrote an op-ed in the student newspaper, the Cavalier Daily, on Tuesday criticizing the editorial board for trying to pressure the school into barring former Vice President Mike Pence from speaking on campus.
In response to a piece from the paper's editorial board asserting that Pence threatened student safety, was ''dangerous'' and that ''hateful rhetoric is violent,'' the faculty members wrote that they were ''more concerned that The Cavalier Daily believes that his speech constitutes ‘violence' that ‘threatens the well-being and safety of students on Grounds.'''
The faculty members continue that ''this speech-is-violence argument is not only wrong — no calls for violence will be issued April 12 — but also contradicts the letter and the spirit of the First Amendment, which generally creates space for a wide range of views to be expressed so long as the relevant speech does not incite violence,'' and that the editorial board performed a ''disservice'' to real victims of physical violence.
''What saddens us about the mindset of The Cavalier Daily editorial is its assumption that the editors should enjoy the freedom to say what they want but others with whom they disagree should not,'' they note. ''The First Amendment protects not just those whose views the editors deem harmless.''
The faculty members then quote the school's ''Statement on Free Expression and and Free Inquiry,'' saying that ''Freedom of speech is among the most powerful tools by which wrongs are righted and institutions are improved or abolished. Principles of free inquiry extend to robust discussion and critical examination of the past. Equally importantly, they live in the present and extend to the future, in a shared commitment to free expression for all speakers and all views.''
The op-ed concludes by quoting the university's founder, Thomas Jefferson, that ''for here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.''
Pence is scheduled to speak at a Young Americans for Freedom event on April 12.
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