Tyler Talgo is the University of Southern California who bravely taped a video in which Darry Srago (adjunct professor of political science) blasted Republicans as “stupid” and “racist.”

Fellow USC student Emily Schrader shares her experiences with that instructor in The College Fix:

I argued with Professor Sragow in almost every class session. I challenged him so often that when he made certain types of statements people laughed and looked at me, knowing that I’d have a response and an argument. So in my class, alternative viewpoints were debated. I also should point out that Professor Sragow, despite his obvious partisanship, always welcomed that debate and discussion, and regarded my comments with a dry sense of humor. I realize, again, that some students may not be comfortable in such a situation – but conservative students need to understand that when they refuse to challenge faulty thinking, they’re letting only the wrong viewpoint be heard. It is crucial for us to speak up – it is crucial for us to challenge this type of rhetoric.

Had Professor Sragow punished me for speaking up, or given me a lesser grade, then a line would have been crossed. And there are methods for dealing with that kind of unfair academic practice. But whether he responded inappropriately to my challenges or not, I still had the responsibility to speak up. (He did not, by the way, grade me unfairly.)

What struck me about that video – and I think it struck a lot of people – was how unpleasant that classroom environment would have been for someone who didn’t agree with the professor. But I am living proof that it didn’t have to be that way. Our class did not have that same oppressive atmosphere, because our ideas – the ideas of limited government, personal responsibility, individual liberty – were brought to the table. We must put them out there in this kind of environment. (And sometimes when one student is brave enough to speak up, another one or two conservatives – or at least non-liberals – will join in!)

The idea that a professor should be reprimanded for something he said, with very rare exceptions, is wrong. Punishing a professor for inflammatory statements (true or not) is just another form of censorship. The entire idea of dialogue and debate is a conservative principle, as is defending free speech – even when we don’t like it. But I can’t help but think how different this classroom’s experience of these issues would have been if someone had just challenged Professor Sragow’s ridiculous assertions. It’s not about winning an argument with the professor – it’s about letting your classmates know that there is another way to see things.