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Friday, September 29, 2023

One of the preeminent intellectuals of the last century, Noam Chomsky’s quote is aimed directly at our generation: “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” Nicole Dan’s recent publication posits that paying for Ben Shapiro’s appearance at UF by Accent represents not only their ignorance, but (at worst) sanctioned approval of his message. This is not only incorrect, but close-minded. Higher education is tasked with challenging assumptions, facilitating experiences and, god forbid, making us uncomfortable. To stick our head in the sand and ignore the perspectives of opposition parties not only insulates us from diverse perspectives and facilitates groupthink, but “other-izes” the very individuals we need to engage with the most. She argues that “there’s no room for dialogue when someone believes that a group doesn’t have the right to exist.” These moments necessitate discussion the most. As exemplified by the riots at University of California, Berkeley at the appearance of Milo Yiannopoulos, our fear of hearing things that disturb us not only closes paths to dialogue, but alienates others. With Shapiro’s appearance having passed, consider these words: Apathy is the greatest insult. Protest, post on social media, but above all, don’t close your eyes. To do so is nothing less than intellectual dystrophy and further entrenches that which you purport to hate in our mainstream culture.

Greg Muller is a 25-year-old UF doctoral student studying school psychology.

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