Vice President Mike Pence attacked the culture of censorship and safe spaces on American campuses – as more than 100 people refused to listen and instead walked out.
Pence went on the offensive at a commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.
According to Politico, he praised the university’s commitment to free speech and open debate, but said growing censorship was a worrying trend in US academia:
While this institution has maintained an atmosphere of civility and open debate, far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness — all of which amounts to nothing less than suppression of the freedom of speech…
As you, our youth, are the future, and universities, the bellwether of thought and culture, I would submit that the increasing intolerance and suppression of the time-honored tradition of free expression on our campuses jeopardizes the liberties of every American. This should not — and must not — be met with silence.
Somewhat ironically, many students with (we presume) an opposite political persuasion to the Vice President, did not stick around to hear about how they should engage with other points of view.
As footage from the event shows, scores of students stood up and walked out of the event as soon as Pence had got on stage.
The local South Bend Tribune newspaper estimated that 150 people left, made up of roughly 50% students and 50% friends and family.
Members of the university’s faculty gathered to congratulate the students who had walked out, according to the report.
One, whose child walked out, paradoxically praised his daughter for her commitment to being “more inclusive” to political opponents, even as she demonstrated the opposite.
He said: “We need to show the world that there has to be tolerance, and we need to me more inclusive and wrap our arms around one another, even if we have different beliefs.”