In defense of civil discourse at LHU


Lock Haven

On April 23, Lock Haven University had the privilege of welcoming author David Horowitz to speak on campus.

Despite what a letter to the editor on April 27 claimed, this event was far from hate speech.

As I sat in the front row, I heard Mr. Horowitz speak against identity politics, preferring treating people based on individual merit.

Identity politics tends to group people into political factions based on characteristics such as race, religion, or gender, a format that is counterproductive to any society based on merit and virtue.

This event reflects what a university is all about. The purpose of a university is not just to teach students raw information, but also to teach them how to think critically.

This includes hearing arguments, then counterarguments, then counterarguments to those counterarguments (and so on), before coming to a conclusion. This includes exposing students to new ideas they’ve never heard before, to make them question everything they know and to reevaluate their stances on important topics.

This includes creating a civil discourse that welcomes debate and discussion, because there is no better way to determine truth.

The speech by David Horowitz shows, if anything, why speakers like himself are so necessary at LHU. It was clear that some members of the audience were unaware that many of his viewpoints even existed.

To give an example, Mr. Horowitz argued that the claim that women are paid less than men for doing the same work (labeled “the gender wage gap”) is a myth.

He made the case using (what I would consider) a valid argument by showing that the economic incentives don’t make sense.

If women laborers are willing to do the exact same work for 23 percent less, any logical business owner would hire only women.

Not only were many audience members with a stance on the “wage gap” unaware of this argument, they were unaware that his position existed at all.

This position is not just exclusive to David Horowitz.

It’s a position accepted by many professional economists (including Dr. Robert Murphy, a former guest speaker at LHU).

The only threat to civil discourse at LHU are those that suggest figures like Mr. Horowitz should not be allowed to speak on campus, and that students should ignore his views.

Instead, we can defend civil discourse by continuing to debate the validity of his points.

In an April 30 letter to the editor on this event, the author misses the point when she states, “If, as (the event organizers) claimed, Horowitz was invited to speak at Lock Haven University as a way to … encourage ‘civil discourse,’ the effort fell flat on its face.”

The point of civil discourse is not to hear someone speak, accept their views, and then move on.

Civil discourse is a conversation that, in this case, began with David Horowitz, and is continuing through her letter, and now mine.

Encouraging civil discourse was always one of my goals when I helped bring speakers back when I was part of LHU’s Young Americans for Liberty before handing off my position to the current president, who has done an even better job by bringing speakers like David Horowitz.

(Author’s Note: The views expressed here are my own, and do not represent Young Americans for Liberty or anyone other than myself.)