UNC-W Professor Defends Free Speech

“The Constitution does not give you a right to feel comfortable; it doesn’t give you a right to have your inner child soothed at all times,” warned UNC Wilmington professor and well-known free speech activist Mike Adams in a wide-ranging speech promoting a free marketplace of ideas on college campuses.

Speaking at UNC-Chapel Hill on April 10, Adams told conservatives to stop whining about the vast presence of liberal ideologies on campus. Instead, he said, they should facilitate debate that presents both sides of an issue. Approximately 100 people attended the event sponsored by the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy and the College Republicans at UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke, and N.C. State.

Adams’ dynamic personality evoked laughter and applause throughout the speech. Forgoing the use of a podium, Adams paced back and forth across the stage using gestures to help reenact his personal experiences. Adams spoke on the importance of free speech, the harsh realities of feminism, and the damaging impact of gun control laws.

In support of free speech, Adams referred to John Stuart Mill’s argument against censorship. Mill argued that we can never be certain of an idea’s falsity, and through censorship we risk being deprived of the truth. Yet, he indicated, universities are in effect censoring some viewpoints, especially those that come from the right.

Adams criticized the contradictions engendered by “hostile environment speech codes.” He cited an extreme instance of a woman who falsely accused three different men of rape and went unpunished—yet Adams himself was accused of violating the speech code for jokingly using Napoleon Dynamite’s catch phrase “gosh, idiots.” In Adams’ mind, this inconsistent policy undermines the constitutional right to free speech that should be protected everywhere, including college campuses.

“The first amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees that you will be offended with regularity,” said Adams when referring to a “vibrator museum” displayed on a college campus to promote Sexual Awareness Week. The exhibit, designed to outline the historical evolution of sex toys, prompted Adams to write an article explaining the offensive nature of the event. Although he never said that the event should not have been allowed, he was sued for creating a “hostile sexual environment” (by the mother of a student involved in the campus’s feminist group).

Adams argued that the proliferation of women’s centers on college campuses is unnecessary because, in most schools, women comprise over 50 percent of the student population. Portraying a majority group as victims seems senseless. His book “Feminists Say the Darndest Things” echoes this notion in addition to citing other contradictory statements made by feminists.

Adams includes abortion as another issue in which university administrators fail to adequately represent both viewpoints. For example, he said that a Northern Kentucky University professor vandalized a pro-life exhibit with the help of her students. Only after news coverage exposed her role was she fired. Adams also wonders why women’s centers only list Planned Parenthood as a viable support option for pregnant students. He contends that women deserve numerous sources of information when making such a momentous decision.

Adams, a former atheist who converted to Christianity, spent a substantial amount of time discussing his frustration with “unbelievable hostility towards Christianity” on college campuses. He shared an example of a UNC-Wilmington biology professor who, after failing to receive a pay raise, said, “I am just as stupid as those Christians who think Jesus is still coming back after 2000 years.” Adams believes religion is overly politicized on college campuses and that only anti-theist viewpoints are presented.

Adams believes upholding the second amendment is just as vital to America as the first amendment. He questioned the constitutionality and effectiveness of gun-free zones on college campuses, given the recent increase in school shootings. He argued that criminals might be less likely to target universities if students were allowed to carry guns and pointed out that homicide rates drop in areas that allow concealed weapon permits. “I think the other side [the left] is really trying to politicize this issue when they bring up every other possible cause of violence but don’t really talk about the issue of the second amendment and gun ownership,” said Adams.

“I’m looking over the hill at the promised land; who is coming with me?” asked Adams when closing his speech. He warned conservative students about potential opposition, but encouraged them to courageously confront the issues he believes threaten constitutional rights.