The problem is that we have no agreement about which ideas are beyond the pale, and the people least willing to draw necessary distinctions are the most strident. Student activists are naturally going to test boundaries and make maximalist demands. Yet while I’m under no illusion that they’re interested in the opinions of Gen X liberals like myself, someone should tell them that if the principle of free speech is curtailed, those with the least power are most likely to feel the chill.

Michelle Goldberg tries to bring reason to the latest group of campus activists who successfully shut down free speech – this time at William and Mary. The target: A speaker from the nefarious ACLU.

I understand that for a lot of young leftists, it doesn’t make sense to equate what they see as hate speech with the speech of the oppressed. It’s harder for me to understand why they think that if First Amendment protections are weakened, the left — and not, say, the Trump administration — will be allowed to define what is hateful and what is not. After all, it is extremely common to hear people on the right describe Black Lives Matter as a hate group. A Louisiana police officer injured in a protest against police brutality recently tried to sue the movement and one of its most prominent members for incitement.

It’s certainly true that it’s easier to enjoy free speech when you’re privileged. It doesn’t follow from that, however, that eroding free speech protections helps the vulnerable. When disputes about free speech are adjudicated not according to broad principles but according to who has power, the left will mostly lose. If the students at William and Mary aren’t frightened off activism by their experience with national notoriety, they’ll probably learn that soon enough. Luckily, if they ever do come face to face with forces determined to shut them up, the A.C.L.U. will be there.

Or you could read this, by Conor Friedersdorf.

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