Conservative students often find it hard to even set-up conferences or other events on many college campuses.

And, when such activities are arranged, they are often met with the progressive version of “tolerance” and “civility”. 

Via The Anchoress, Columbia College freshman Kyle Dontoh notes that prejudice, directed at conservatives, skewered a recent debate at school.

This past weekend, Lerner Hall was host to the Family in Modern Society Conference, arranged by students here at Columbia. The conference featured speakers from various universities who spoke on a multitude of topics, including the socioeconomic benefits of stable families, the differences in the adult quality of life for low-income children in married and unmarried families, and, yes, a defense of “traditional marriage.” If you were to ask around campus, you could very easily get the impression that a conclave of fundamentalist, homophobic demagogues was holding the conference. As I left my dorm to head to the conference’s opening session, I was actually asked if I was going to that “anti-gay thing.” As a supporter of marriage equality, I found the slander—unintentional as it was—to be particularly stinging.

Earlier in the week, I had received an invitation to take part in a pro-LGBT rights rally on campus and had considered going, unaware that the event being protested was the conference that I was planning on attending. As I approached Lerner, I was slightly confused about the intent of the picketers—I hadn’t been under the impression that this was an anti-gay conference.

The lectures were thoughtful and incisive—so much so that I quickly discarded my original plan of staying for a few sessions before returning to work. The speakers, to a T, were academics who based their arguments and presentations on facts and reason, not on bigotry or prejudice. Only one speaker, author Dawn Eden, made an argument based on religious grounds, and her lecture, “Everything is Tolerated and Nothing is Forgiven,” was about chastity and dealing with the excesses of permissiveness, not about the LGBT community. Only three speakers broached the issue of same-sex relationships, and only two of those three explicitly passed judgment on these relationships.

Even then, the arguments were made on strictly rational grounds.

Dontoh notes that the extreme prejudice shown to the conference speaker actually hurts everyone.

Our university benefits from pluralism, a free exchange of ideas, and the constant intercourse between competing schools of thought. Sometimes, a moral consensus emerges—such as the heartening decision of many of the Ivy League Democratic and Republican associations to endorse marriage equality. But a consensus is not a golden rule; It is not fixed. It should not be immune to debate. I happen to agree with that consensus, but when we place name-calling, intimidation, and disruption above an honest discussion of the issues, we all lose.