At a book signing at UCLA over the weekend, Donald Trump Jr. shut down his own keynote address just 20 minutes after it started.
When people attending the event, sponsored by the conservative activists of Turning Point USA, learned that there would be no question and answer session, they began to riot and chant “U‑S-A” and “Q‑and‑A.” Former Fox News contributor Kimberly Guilfoyle, also on the stage, responded to the audience by mocking the rioters’ ability to get a date, escalating the problem even further.
While much of Twitter immediately took sides in the debate, it raises an issue that can’t be solved in 280 characters. What’s at stake here is deeper, and it’s killing the free flow of ideas our founders sought to protect.
Debate breaks down when a growing sector of Americans feel their voice won’t be heard unless they shout.
The point of our republican form of government was never to stifle factions, as Madison writes in Federalist 10, but for them to compete with one another, in the hope that only the most prudent ideas would succeed in winning widespread approval.
When we shut down those who question our ideas, it suggests we can’t actually defend them. It suggests our ideas are imprudent.
If speech is to remain free, we can’t shut down ideas we disagree with — especially those on our own side of the debate.
Stifling hot air only makes it hotter. It’s better to let out the steam.