I am going to discuss two incidents and one study that at first seem unrelated.
The first involves conservative TV host Laura Ingraham and David Hogg, a student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Ms. Ingraham tweeted:
“David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it. (Dinged by UCLA even with a 4.1 GPA … totally predictable given acceptance rates.)”
David Hogg’s response was to list the 12 biggest sponsors for her show and request his followers on social media to reach out to them to request that they withdraw their advertising. The Twitter campaign was successful, and many advertisers pulled out.
Laura Ingraham then sent a tweet apologizing for her comments.
“Any student should be proud of a 4.2 GPA – incl. @DavidHogg111. On reflection, in the spirit of Holy Week, I apologize for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland. For the record, I believe my show was the first to feature David…”
David Hogg did not accept her apology. As of the writing of this article, no company that pulled its advertising has changed its mind after Ms. Ingraham’s apology. Ms. Ingraham is on vacation. She may never return.
I am not a fan of Laura Ingraham and disagree with almost everything she says. The comment she made may have been ill-advised but did not warrant a boycott. Mr. Hogg did go through a traumatic experience. However, that should not make him immune to any negative comments. Mr. Hogg must grow up and understand that if you want to be in the limelight and criticize others you must be able to accept criticism. Moreover, once Ms. Ingraham groveled and apologized, Hogg should have accepted it instead of sounding arrogant. More dangerous than one person requesting a boycott is his followers supporting his request by reaching out to advertisers and then the advertisers acting on it. This has a chilling effect on the free and open right of expression of ideas. In other words, this boycott is an attack on the First Amendment.
Mr. Hogg must grow up and understand that if you want to be in the limelight
and criticize others you must be able to accept criticism
The second incident involves the attempt by some student groups at Hofstra University to have a statue of Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, removed from the campus. The reason given is that President Jefferson owned slaves. I could write an article addressing why they are wrong. However, that is not the main point of the story as it relates to this article. There was a discussion on campus and it was reported that those in support of the removal shouted down the opposition and would not give them the opportunity to speak. Next to President George Washington, Thomas Jefferson has had an influence in the establishment and development of this country, including the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson, on December 20, 1787, argued that “[A] bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse.” This led to the adoption of the Bill of Rights, which included the First Amendment right to free speech. It is ironic that the students are attacking Jefferson, whose vision of having a Bill of Rights led to them receiving the freedoms they are exercising. This is another instance where students are trying to silence those who disagree with them. These students do not believe in the First Amendment except when it relates to them being able to speak and assemble.
The third connection to the prior two aforementioned incidents relates to a study of millennials and student loan debt done in 2017. From all respondents, 49.8 percent said they would give up their right to vote in the next two presidential elections to have their debt forgiven. Although the right to vote is another amendment to the constitution, this is another example of a generation that has no appreciation for fundamental rights. The first two examples indicate that the generation after the millennials is no better. This does not bode well for the future of democracy in this country. As governor and former presidential candidate John Kasich said in another unrelated situation, it is up to the adults in the room to solve the problem. We need to educate the students about the importance of the constitutional rights and attack those, no matter who they are, who try to limit them, and stand up for those who want to speak out – whether or not we agree with them.
Warren S. Hecht is a local attorney. He can be reached at email@example.com