So this tale of “liberal speech suppression” here in Portland, Oregon (at PSU) is currently pinging around the conservative blogosphere/echo chamber, and even made it to the Fox News network:
The story has now been retold at College Insurrection, Accuracy in Academia, The Libertarian Republic, this Oklahoma City Fox affiliate, this Las Vegas talk radio station, AR15.com, on Reddit, at a mess of lesser-trafficked blogs, and even on some non-partisan & non-Fox-affiliated sites: ischoolguide.com, University Business and this Alabama ABC affiliate.
Best I can tell, the story hasn’t been picked up by any major talk radio hosts. I suspect it’s only a matter of time.
The student, Christian Britschgi, and his fellow travelers are spinning the tale as a story of liberal academics suppressing conservative speech in order to shield fragile liberal students from the trauma of experiencing opinions they don’t like. This is a common meme in conservative circles – if anyone points out that ad hominem attack and invective aren’t really intelligent methods of debate, they often get shouted down for being a wussy liberal crybaby.
It seems pretty dang likely that the reality of what happened is far more nuanced than the story that Christian Britschgi is telling. I'd like to see local media shed light on things. Oregonian? Willamette Week? Anyone?
I searched extensively for a more reliable, unbiased, LOCAL recounting of the story, but have come up empty-handed thus far.
As a former college political org leader on a MUCH smaller campus, one aspect of his story struck me as deserving greater examination. Were Britschgi and his friend literally trying to arrange to table *now-ish* because they had a few spare hours? Even at my undergrad campus of 1,200, 20-some years ago, you usually had to arrange for these things days ahead of time.
If the story is accurate as Britschgi tells it, and they weren't just shut down because they were trying to do something on the fly, this was a Portland State U FAIL. Universities cannot sanitize students' speech in order to avoid triggering anybody, and really shouldn't be attempting to do so. As someone who's experienced PTSD, when you're in it, anything and everything can be triggering. JOYOUS FRIGGING SONGS WERE TRIGGERING sometimes. It definitely sucks, but it's on those of us experiencing PTSD to do what we need to do to recover so we can function in society, not on society to become a grey, silent place so as to avoid triggering us.
There is a BUT coming, though. It seems quite likely that the faculty & admin were NOT concerned about the message, but with graphic – if cartoonish – imagery on one of their posters – imagery that would be more likely to impact combat veterans with PTSD than others.
Here's the poster. You be the judge.