The James Madison University debate team has spoken out against a planned speech by conservative commentator Liz Wheeler on the topic of “the ideology of transgenderism.”
While the organization claims to stand for free speech and open dialogue, it also suggests that a general climate of free speech should not extend to platforming “exclusionary, discriminatory, or hostile ideas.”
The debate team has claimed that Wheeler’s views are an attempt to “antagonize and harass” transgender students and has demanded that the student organization hosting the event withdraw its support.
Many academic and student organizations have also spoken out against the event, with some indirectly calling on the university administration to step in and stop it.
Despite dissatisfaction expressed on social media, the university administration maintains its support for the event. Tim Miller, JMU’s vice president for student affairs, said “I can disagree with the speaker, I can disagree with people protesting, but it’s our job to provide the forum, both should be able to exist in tandem.”
Some have criticized the debate team’s position, pointing out the inherent inconsistencies in a debate club’s position that some political matters should not be discussed. Calling for censorship is an unprincipled and ineffectual strategy. The JMU debate team should consider discussing Wheeler’s arguments and attempting to rebut them rather than requesting for the lecture to be canceled.
The Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter at JMU will host the talk on April 26, which has already had to change locations due to security concerns.
This event is free and open to the public. Click here for details on how to attend or watch live online.