The Free Minds Forum took place this week, bringing together libertarian-minded thinkers from all across the University of West Georgia to discuss both the fundamental principles of liberty and how they apply to the issues of today.
The Free Minds Panel consisted of Amanda Swafford, Libertarian Candidate for U.S. Senate; Dr. Gregory Dixon, Professor of International Relations at the University of West Georgia; and Dr. Leanne Defoor, Professor of Business Law at West Georgia.
The topics were varied and ranged from the fundamental principles of liberty to policing issues throughout the U.S. to recent events on campus regarding free speech and university action.
The panel unanimously agreed on the idea that coercion as a basis for government is a dysfunctional system that limits individual freedom and choice. Yet Mrs. Swafford was quick to point out the fact that as a party, Libertarians need to express these ideas in more relatable terms in order to better attract the attention of voters.
These ideas were easily applied to the issue of policing in America, with Dr. Dixon raising the idea that many of the hostilities between communities and police that exist in America today are rooted in anti-liberty local policies and policing practices. As Dr. Dixon explains, local policing has transformed into a for-profit venture in which police are tasked with making money and funding their own departments. This combined with the burden of overregulated local ordinances and an exodus of police from the communities in which they serve has created a hostile environment that has eroded the good policing relationships.
Students were quick to raise the issue of free speech on campus relating to a controversial incident that happened a few weeks prior in which a UWG student ripped down signs in-front of single occupancy restrooms designating these restrooms as gender neutral (For more information check out this AJC article on the incident: http://www.myajc.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/viral-post-challenges-free-speech-on-georgia-campu/nsgsN/). Students were divided on the issue arguing that the student was wrong for destroying property instead of engaging in debate while others felt that no matter his views, he had the right to express himself. Much of the room came to an agreement that instead of acting this way the student should have opened up a dialogue with students that he disagreed with to foster better understanding between the two sides.
Overall, the forum was productive and positive, fostering better understanding of the fundamental principles of liberty while also applying these principles to the real world.