Aldrich addresses issues of free speech

Beth McHenry

Many Lawrence students and faculty would probably have categorized Wednesday’s address “Free Speech: Issues on Campus” by former FBI agent Gary Aldrich as controversial, offensive, or too conservative for Lawrence. But then again, that is precisely Aldrich’s point.
The address, sponsored by the Lawrence University College Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation, attempted to address a serious concern on college campuses: the rights and responsibilities of students to express their opinions, moral beliefs, and viewpoints without fear of discrimination or oppression from professors and peers.
Aldrich is one of a number of Americans who feel that the intellectual atmosphere at most colleges is overwhelmingly “politically correct,” liberal, and even radical. Aldrich feels that professors rarely present pro-American, pro-capitalist viewpoints in the classroom setting and that students should have the courage to express conservative and Christian views. “I don’t think professors should be meddling with students’ ideologies,” he said.
According to Aldrich, students, faculty, and administrators in numerous American colleges create an imbalance in political atmosphere that favors liberal speakers, classes, and opinions. This imbalance essentially “makes the decision” for students who are undecided about their own political opinions; undecided students are likely to side with the majority, regardless of their own beliefs. Aldrich feels that the political imbalance present in colleges makes it difficult for a conservative professor or conservative student to be successful in society.
The point that Aldrich stressed most strongly is the importance for students to have “courage when it counts.” Aldrich added that students should be careful to avoid flippancy about free speech and only challenge the teaching methods or political agendas of others if the issue is serious, not trivial.
Aldrich also stressed that political imbalance is not necessarily a force here at Lawrence, but cited several examples of prejudice or harassment of conservatives at other colleges and universities.
Aldrich’s background as an FBI agent made him familiar with the importance of free speech. For thirty-years, Aldrich has worked with the FBI all over the nation, primarily with political corruption and presidential appointments beginning during the Reagan administration.
Aldrich also served as a senior FBI agent in charge of national security at the White House during the administrations of former presidents Bush and Clinton. These terms severely influenced Aldrich’s view of American politics. In 1996, Aldrich published the New York Times bestseller, “Unlimited Access: An FBI Agent Inside the Clinton White House,” which outlined numerous serious security breaches within the White House during President Clinton’s office.
Aldrich has published two other books, the novel “Speak No Evil” and the recent release “Thunder on the Left: An Insider’s Report on the Hijacking of the Democratic Party.” Aldrich has also authored editorials for publications such as the Wall Street Journal and appeared numerous times on television shows including “Good Morning America,” “Dateline,” “The O’Reilly Factor,” and “Inside Edition.”
Aldrich also founded The Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty, a non-profit organization intended to promote the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights and support the right of citizens to engage in ethical dissent.