College students across the United States — willingly or not — have become embroiled in vast debates about the parameters of acceptable discourse on campuses. Concepts like trigger warnings and safe spaces, hitherto confined to academic theory, have bustled their way into reality, with an army of activists to shout down anybody who questions them.
Supporters of this new state of affairs say that restrictions on speech give necessary and overdue justice to historically marginalized groups, whether women, people of color, transgender or gender non-binary people, or members of a different oppressed group. They argue that these new norms empower students who would otherwise be afraid to voice their views on tricky topics and difficult personal experiences. Detractors worried about preserving freedom of speech respond that free speech is only meaningfully free when all students feel empowered to speak. They are frustrated by what they see as an ever-evolving labyrinth of discursive booby traps which stifles debate and the free exchange of ideas. They worry that certain ideas — namely, conservative ones — are not being engaged with so much as bullied out of acceptability.