November 13, 2023

Herb Saperstein on Moral over Legal Responsibilities on Campus

With the current demonstrations in the streets of our cities and on college campuses where mobs often chant slogans calling for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews, it is appropriate to discuss what is legally permissible under the First Amendment. That is what Nadine Strossen and Kenneth Stern have done in their article defending the free speech rights of groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine. Their arguments, and most others defending SJP, revolve around the Constitution. This has been the chosen battleground, but it is not the only one.

It seems to me that since we have grown up in a legalistic society, we tend to think about everything legalistically. Ignoring the moral dimension, however, comes at a great cost. We have seen universities rotting away for at least three decades. The moral nihilism that now thrives in these universities has seeped into the larger culture, and it’s not difficult to see the results all around us. Truth, beauty, and goodness are scorned in academia. Too many young people are unable to distinguish good from evil, and under such conditions, evil will grow. This is inevitable and goes a long way in explaining why we are seeing so much evil that is being called good or just. We are dealing with something more important than legal subtleties, and if we decide how to handle what is going on in the culture by only legalistic thinking, the larger battle will be lost. If the larger battle is lost, the war is lost and civilization goes with it.

Herb Saperstein

Monroe, N.J.