Sunday, 3 April 2016

Glenn Reynolds: Talk of censorship backfires for Erdogan, Obama and anti-Trumpers

From U.S. college campuses to Turkey to the White House, censorship provokes more speech.

“If you censor me, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.”

OK, that’s not the actual line from Star Wars. But it does describe an increasingly common effect, in which efforts to shut down people’s messages result in those messages getting a lot more attention than they would have. Last week featured three particularly noticeable examples.

The first was the effort by Emory student “activists” to censor pro-Trump chalkings on campus sidewalks and steps. Not only did this effort produce an enormous blowback aimed at Emory, but it also produced a nationwide campaign of Trump-chalking at colleges everywhere. College humor site Old Row created a contest and offered gift cards to readers sending in the best pictures of Trump chalkings on their campuses, and vast numbers responded, with chalkings from North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Missouri State, University of Kentucky, University of Maine, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, University of Nebraska, Boston University, University of Louisville and many, many more.

As Old Row noted, "It’s not about Trump, it’s about freedom of speech on campus.” And as Georgetown Law professor Randy Barnett tweeted, talk of censorship is like talk of gun control: Talk of gun control leads people to stock up on guns and ammo; talk of censorship leads people to express themselves more vigorously. Which is a pretty good response.


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