by Andrea Vacchiano
Tamper-Proof Packaging: Saving Free Speech in a Safety-first World
On July 15, the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute and the Heritage Foundation hosted a Conservative Women's Network luncheon with Marji Ross as its speaker. Marji, CBLPI Board member and President of Regnery Publishing, spoke on the challenges that face free speech in America today with a speech entitled “Tamper-Proof Packaging: Saving Free Speech in a Safety-first World."
To begin her talk, Marji relayed a personal anecdote. Her rabbi, a huge fan of classical music, was ecstatic when he was given a CD with Beethoven's music. While attempting to open it, he found that the package was too thick to open easily. He fiddled with it for a prolonged period of time, even cutting himself in the process, and found that, when he finally managed to pry it open, he wasn't excited about the CD anymore. The enduring process of opening it vanquished any excitement he had – this, Marji said, is similar to the struggle against free speech in America today. When Americans overprotect themselves and value security over liberty, life becomes more grueling, and the ability to have new ideas is lost.
Marji asserted that the United States now values security over liberty, especially after the events on 9/11. To cope with the looming threat of danger, Americans have now shifted towards political correctness and distancing themselves from things that make them uncomfortable. This is most prevalent on college campuses where administrators and students attempt to shut out "offensive" speech, whether it be a conservative speaker or a work of a Founding Father who is "too white, too male." Marji even related that there are universities that have "safe rooms" with Play-doh and crayons to protect students from ideas they find upsetting.
(L-R Laurel Conrad, Marji Ross, Helena Richardson)
Marji recognized that censoring offensive speech is a major fault of the Left, but she also acknowledged that the conservative women in the room also had the power stand up for free speech. Marji listed five steps to becoming a champion of free speech:
- Stand up for what you believe in – it is crucial to understand and defend your arguments
- Learn to criticize without contempt – consider your opponent's side
- Learn to debate without ad-hominem attacks – the only way to convert people is to focus on your message, and making personal attacks just serves to alienate people
- Learn to listen to ideas you disagree with – this will sharpen your own ideas
- Learn from people who are different from you – there nothing to fear from them if our views are strong
Marji closed the quote by quoting William Allen White, "…you can have no wise laws nor free entertainment of wise laws unless there is free expression of the wisdom of the people." Her experience as a book-publisher and insight into the industry made for an extremely interesting talk.
(L-R Andrea Vacchiano, Danielle DiQuattro, Elizabeth Campbell, Marji Ross, Danielle Fife, Abigail Slagle)
Andrea is a 2016 summer intern.
View Marji’s entire presentation on our YouTube channel.