In truly rabid fashion, many students across the country are stirring up a rising tide of disruption and violence on their college campuses. Aggressive physicality has become their go-to method in displaying their opposition to people and ideas they don’t like. They’ve resorted to physical assault, disrupting speaking events to the point where the speaker is forced to flee from the premises, and the blind destruction of property, to name a few. This kind of violence, done in the name of censoring ideas they’ve labeled as offensive, simply can’t be accepted. Their actions have devolved into blind aggression directed at anything and anyone that doesn’t fit into their narrow spectrum of acceptance.

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Therefore, Millennials can’t allow this small, but very loud segment of our generation to represent the rest of us. Instead, we can learn to embrace a concept where, rather than letting our differences be marked by hate and violence, we inject a little peace, civility, respect, and tolerance into our political discourse. I fully believe that the best means of achieving a peaceful existence with each other is through adherence to the nonaggression principle (NAP). From this axiom, no person may initiate aggression against another individual or their property. Murray Rothbard, a philosopher of the classically liberal tradition termed the NAP in this way: “no man or group of men may aggress against the person or property of anyone else. This may be called the “nonaggression axiom.” “Aggression” is defined as the initiation of the use or threat of physical violence against the person or property of anyone else. Aggression is therefore synonymous with invasion.” Sounds like a pretty reasonable idea to live by, don’t you think?

Under the NAP, individuals naturally recognize a greater degree of respect and tolerance toward others and their opinions. You’re free to believe what you want and to express yourself in any way, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the right of any other to do the same. What a radical concept! According to the NAP, much of the campus violence we’re now seeing would be completely unjustified. Instead of the attacks we’ve seen on people and property, we’d keep with the more peaceful methods of expressing our points of view. In the end, I would argue that by lashing out, you’re actually doing your message a grave disservice as it tends to radicalize oppositional forces. Rather than hearing your words as credible concerns, they see your actions as disturbing fits of rage. Hardly a productive environment to lend credibility to your concerns.

With aggression being understood as actual physical violence or the perceived threat of violence against an individual or their property, you’d need more than just some scary words or offensive ideas to justify a violent response. Thus, I’d say the actions we’ve seen as of late fall short of this critical threshold. Luckily, most people tend live by this creed in their daily lives already without really putting a name to it. Our basic instincts usually tell us to respect an individual’s body and property and to refrain from initiating aggression against them. Most of us already understand this and are taught this from a very early age. It’s also clear that when we stray from this idea that problems begin to arise.

Given my arguments here, I’m not naive enough to believe that if everyone just adhered to the NAP everything would be hunky dory and magical. That’s called a false sense of utopia. But what I can’t deny is the inherent value in seeking a much more peaceful means of coexistence, both on our college campuses and beyond. The alternative, instead, is the continuance of the behavior we’re now seeing. If we don’t make an effort to change things now, we’ll likely end up in a place where differing opinions are no longer challenged through debate and the exchange of ideas, but rather under the cold boot of censorship. A principle of nonaggression is the best means to halt this kind of outcome and the sooner our Millennial contemporaries start living by this all-important axiom, the better we’ll all be.

For more thoughts on liberty, check out my blog at Libertyonthemind.com!