WATCH: Biden in 2017 says campus leftists ‘wrong’ to shut down conservatives
Alex Munguia, Campus Reform
- In 2017, then-Vice President Joe Biden defended conservatives’ right to speak freely on college campuses.
- In the University of Delaware comments, Biden condemned leftists who shut down conservatives.
In 2017, then-former Vice President Joe Biden was asked questions regarding freedom of speech on college campuses at the University of Delaware. The question, in particular, was about conservative speakers having been shut down by leftist groups.
Biden stated that the way students shut down speakers, as often happens to conservatives on college campuses, was a “demonstration” of “what’s been lost.”
“The First Amendment means what it says,” Biden continued. “You’re not allowed to stand up and yell fire in this auditorium.”
“But you are allowed to stand up and say Biden I think you’re an absolute jerk and Biden I think whatever, and by the way, I think we should do away with, or I believe that race is the problem in America and — I mean, look, what we do is you, we hurt ourselves badly when we don’t allow the speech to take place.”
“Now, speech can move to the point of incitement, inciting riots, inciting,” Biden said, addressing the concept of non-protected speech. “But the truth of the matter is the incitement that occurs before the person even speaks, that’s falls on those who are engaged in that violence, not on the speaker.”
When it came to an infamous event at Berkeley when conservative speakers were being protested by students. Biden stated he “thought they were absolutely wrong denying the ability of various people to go out and speak…if your idea is big enough it should be able to compete.”
“The first amendment is one of the defining features of who we are in the bill of rights,” Biden continued, “and to shut it down in the name of what is appropriate is simply wrong. It’s wrong.”
Biden’s predecessor, former President Donald Trump, signed an executive order that would threaten to pull federal funding for colleges and universities that do not uphold free speech. Given that Biden has revoked many of Trump’s executive orders during his first three weeks in office, Campus Reform asked the White House if Biden will enforce Trump’s campus free speech executive order, or revoke it but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Senior Counsel and Director of the Center for Academic Freedom at Alliance Defending Freedom, Tyson Langhofer, told Campus Reform, “President Biden hit the nail on the head at the University of Delaware when he said, ‘The First Amendment is one of the defining features of who we are in the Bill of Rights. And to shut it down in the name of what is ‘appropriate’ is simply wrong.'”
Langhofer added that “we need action on this commitment.”
Langhofer noted that the Biden Administration has the ”opportunity to make good on its promise of unity by defending the First Amendment right to free speech for everyone – including those with whom the administration disagrees.”
Langhofer urged the administration to “demonstrate its commitment to free speech by holding government officials accountable when they allow cancel culture to run rampant on our country’s public campuses.”
Ultimately, Langhofer deduced that Biden’s words “are of no consequence if public officials ignore him and no action is taken to hold institutions accountable for stifling students’ ability to speak freely.”
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