If you are at all politically active in conservative circles, you will have likely been around when the subject of young people has come up, specifically how to attract young people to conservatism. At this point, I usually roll my eyes at the lame-o suggestions bandied about, which involves for the most part adding some ‘golly-gee’, ‘whiz-bang’ into conservatism to appeal to the ‘MTV generation’, or some such thing. These guys sound about as with-it as old people in the 1960’s, who fretted about teenagers shooting up with marijuana.
In reaction, I point out that today’s youth (and indeed all youth since the 1960’s) lean left because they are indoctrinated that way by our schools. To undo that, we must eliminate the practice of left-wing indoctrination in the school system. At this point, my listeners – all those guys hot to trot for the ‘MTV generation’ - recoil in horror, because they understand what I am proposing is a knock-out, drag-em-out fight with one of the left’s strongest power bases: academia.
But not everybody is so lily-livered. In the US, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has rolled up its sleeves and is doing precisely that. In this article, FIRE offers six pieces of good advice on promulgating free speech on campus:
“1. Tie Speech Protections to Federal Funding.”
In Canada, the universities are regulated by the provinces, so substitute in the phrase ‘provincial funding’. In Ontario, Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives have a good chance at overthrowing the rudderless, post-McGuinty Liberals. Recently, Tim has made favourable noises on a lot of conservative issues. We need to push him on this point.
“2. Legally End the Slippery Debate about What "Harassment" Really Means.”
Harassment is one of those words whose definition the left likes to keep ambiguous: a narrow term, describing genuinely indefensible behaviour, when selling their anti-harassment agenda to the public, and a broad definition, that covers almost everything under the sun, at enforcement time. The word ‘racism’ works similarly.
“3. Litigate Aggressively.”
I particularly like this point. And no, I am not a lawyer. But people who make it their business to mess with free speech need to feel pain. If they don’t, they will not modify their behaviour. And this goes double for people paid to mess with free speech.
“4. Make Colleges Certify Free Speech Protection.
5. Not Just Sticks: Provide Carrots to Colleges that Behave.
6. The Broader Job: Let's Work to Change the Culture.”
FIRE is an American organization. In Canada, this struggle is being waged by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. At the recent Manning Center Networking Conference in Ottawa, I spoke to a bunch of conservative university students at the JCCF booth who are fighting the good fight at our universities as we speak. In addition to winning some important court victories, they are systematically rating Canadian universities on their free speech performance.
If you want to do something about the left-wing indoctrination of the youth, you can start by donating some money to them. I have.