Education

Duke Student Columnist: America’s First Amendment ‘Obsession’ Is ‘Expression Of White Supremacy’

According to a columnist for the Duke University student newspaper, America’s “obsession with the First Amendment” is really just “an expression of white supremacy.”

“I am thinking about how an urgent and overdue conversation about racism—on our campus and across our country — has been derailed by a diversionary and duplicitous obsession with the First Amendment,” graduate student Bennett Carpenter wrote in university newspaper The Chronicle. “I am thinking about how quickly the conversation has shifted from white supremacy to white fragility — and how this shift is itself an expression of white supremacy.”

Apparently unaware of the irony of using a newspaper column to call for restrictions on free speech, Carpenter argued that Americans give too much deference to the First Amendment and should focus more on censoring violent speech.

“Words hurt as much as actions; indeed, words are actions,” he declared. “Within the context of white supremacy, any distinction between a defaced poster, a racist pamphlet and legal or extralegal murder can be only of degree.”

Ari Cohn, a lawyer with the Foundation for Individual Rights In Education, first noticed the article, which ran on Tuesday with the title “Free speech, Black lives and white fragility.”

Cohn shared the article on Twitter with the caption “Duke student argues that #free speech & murder are only separated by a ‘matter of degree.'”

Carpenter, who appears to be white, devotes much of his column to the subject of “white fragility,” which he defines as “a range of defensive behaviors through which white people (or more accurately, people who believe they are white) deflect conversations about race and racism in order to protect themselves from race-based stress.” America’s free speech “obsession,” Carpenter implies, is the result of rampant “white fragility.”

Carpenter’s column is just the latest in a growing movement against free speech both on college campuses and in society at large. According to Pew Research Center, 40 percent of Americans aged 18-34 are in favor of government censorship of speech that is “offensive to minority groups.”

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