>>>AS PUBLIC DISCOURSE IN OUR COUNTRY, HAS IT BECOME A — OF ECHO CHAMBERS? IT’S HARD TO NOT THINK THAT. YOU VISIT A COLLEGE CAMPUS AND THAT VIEW IS MORE ACUTE. ZACHARY WOOD FOUND HIMSELF AT THE CREPT ER– AT THE CENTER OF POLITICAL STORM WHEN HE INVITED A GROUP OF CONTROVERSIAL SPEAKERS TO THE PREDOMINANTLY LIBERAL CAMPUS. HE BECAME A CHAMPION, NOT SIMPY OF FREE SPEECH, BUT IN THE PROPOSITION THAT WE HAVE TO ACTIVELY ENGAGE WITH IDEAS AND BELIEFS THAT WE FIND IDEAL AND OFFENSIVE. NOW AT 22, HE HAS WRITTEN A MEMOIR, UNSEMPNSORED, HE JOINS NOW. ZACH, THANK YOU FOR COMING ON THE SHOW. IT’S AN HONOR TO HAVE YOU HERE.>>GLAD TO BE HERE.>>A PUBLISHED MEMOIR PUBLISHED BY A 22-YEAR-OLD AUTHOR, YOU DON’T SEE IT OFTEN. HOW DID IT HAPPEN?>>SNAP YOUR FINGERS AND WISH –>>YEAH, SURE.>>I WAS FORTUNATE TO GROW UP IN A FAMILY OF EDUCATORS, TO HAVE A MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER WHO PLACED HIGH VALUE ON LEARNING. AND SO, MY LOVE OF READING LED TO A LOVE OF WRITING. SO, I HAD ALWAYS HAD AN INTEREST IN WRITING, EXPRESSING MY VIEWS AND MY THOUGHTS ON ISSUES THAT I WAS INTERESTED IN. AND WHEN I GOT TO WILLIAMS COLLEGE, I DECIDED THAT I WANTED TO CONTRIBUTE TO PUBLIC DISCOURSE. AND SO, THAT FOR ME MEANT WRITING OP-EDS. I WAS FORTUNATE TO WRITE AN OP-ED FOR THE WASHINGTON POST COMPLAINING THE CHALLENGES THAT LOW INCOME AND FIRST GENERATION STUDENTS FACE WHEN THEY GO HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS AND THAT LED FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE MY STORY.>>YOU WERE ACTIVE IN ACADEMIC CIRCLES. BUT AT LEAST 3/4 OF THE BOOK IS ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE THIS EVENT. WHY?>>SO, FOR ME, YOU KNOW, IN WRITING THIS, I WAS THINKING ABOUT WHAT ARE THE EXPERIENCES THAT HAVE SHAPED WHO I AM? AND ONE OF THE BIGGEST INFLUENCES IN MY LIFE WAS MY MOTHER.>>SURE.>>AND SO THE FIRST THIRD OF THE BOOK IS ABOUT MY EXPERIENCE WITH HER. AND ANOTHER SECOND MAJOR INFLU MY FATHER, SO THAT WAS THE SECOND THIRD OF THE BOOK AND THE LAST THIRD IS ABOUT MY TIME AT COLLEGE.>>LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR MOTHER. SHE IS TRULY A PROMINENT CHARACTER IN THE BOOK. AND I WOULD SAY THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN YOUR EARLY LIFE. TALK ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP AND HOW IT AFFECTED YOU?>>YOU KNOW, I KNEW MY MOTHER LOVED ME DEARLY. I KNEW THAT SHE WANTED TO GIVE ME THE BEST AT THE SAME TIME, I KNEW THAT OUR RELATIONSHIP WAS CHALLENGING AND COMPLICATED AND AT 6 OR 7 YEARS OLD, YOU DON’T REALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT MENTAL ILLNESS IS. BUT MY MOTHER HAD A DISORDER THAT WAS A COMBINATIONS OF SYMPTOMS OF BIPOLAR AND PSCHITSOPHRENIA. I HAD TO DECIDE IF IT WAS A GOOD DAY OR BAD DAY. AND HOW I WAS GOING TO RESPOND TO THAT. AND IT FORCED ME TO BE COMPASSIONATE AT AN EARLY AGE.>>WHY DO YOU THINK IT WAS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO BRING IN WRITERS TO WILLIAMS WHO WERE CONSIDERED HOMO-PHOBIC AND XENOPHOBIC, HATEFUL, HATEFUL WRITERS. WHY DID YOU THINK IT WAS IMPORTANT TO BRING THEM?>>MY MOM RAISED ME TO BELIEVE THAT SELF KNOWLEDGE IS IMPORTANT. AND EQUALLY IMPORTANT IS HAVING A KIND OF STEAD FAST COMMITMENT TO DEVELOPING A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF HUMANITY. FOR ME, THAT MEANT THAT I HAD TO UNDERSTAND THE VIEWS AND THE VALUES THAT I ADMIRE, AND ALSO, THE VIEWS AND VALUES THAT I DETEST. THE VIEWS AND VALUES THAT I HOPE TO RESIST. THAT I HOPE TO CHANGE. YOU HAVE TO ENGAGE WITH THEM. AND YOU CAN’T JUST ENGAGE IN A MODE OF THIS HAS TO BE AN ADVERSARIAL INTERACTION. YOU CAN LEAD WITH QUESTIONS. IT OPENS UP POSSIBILITIES FOR YOU TO FIND COMMON GROUND. FOR ME, I THOUGHT THAT BRINGING THE SPEAKERS WOULD HELP ME BE A BETTER CHANGE AGENT ONE DAY.>>WHAT WOULD BE ONE OF THE MOST CONVINCING ARGUMENTS THAT YOU PIERS TOLD YOU AS TO WHY THE SPEAKER SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN INVITED.>>ONE OF THE MOST COMPELLING COUNTER ARGUMENTS TO THE WORK THAT I WAS DOING WAS THAT, IT WAS ALREADY DIFFICULT ENOUGH TO BE A MINORITY ON CAMPUS. IT WAS ALREADY DIFFICULT ENOUGH TO BE A POOR STUDENT AT AN ELITE INSTITUTION WHERE THE MAJORITY OF THE STUDENT BODY WAS FAIRLY AFFLUENT, THERE’S ALREADY ENOUGH CHALLENGES, OBSTACLES, MICRO AGGRESSION, TO HAVE TO THEN BRING IN A SPEAKER ON TOP OF THOSE THINGS, THAT YOU HAVE TO DEAL WITH IN INTERACTIONS WITH THE DORMS AND DINING HALLS AND IN CLASSES AND TO HAVE SOMEBODY THAT IS ESPOUSING AND SAYING THINGS THAT ARE DISTURBING AND UNSETTLING AND QUESTION THE WAY IN WHICH YOU IDENTIFY AND VIEW YOURSELF — IT’S AN ADDED WEIGHT.>>WHAT ABOUT THE ARGUMENT THAT YOU WERE LEGITIMIZING THEM.>>THAT WAS AN ARGUMENT THAT YOU WERE ENDORSING WHAT THEY WERE SAYING BY GIVING THEM A PLATFORM. MY VIEW IS, THERE’S COSTS AND BENEFITS WHEN YOU DO SOMETHING THAT MATTERS. WHEN YOU ARE ENGAGED IN A TOPIC WORTH DISCUSSING. THERE’S CHALLENGES AND ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES TO HAVING TOUGH CONVERSATIONS, TO TAKING MEASURES TO ACHIEVE CHANGE. I THOUGHT THERE WAS A POTENTIAL FOR THE BENEFITS TO OUT WEIGH THE POSITIVE.>>WAS THERE A SPEAKER OR DISCOURSE THAT YOU SAY, WE CANNOT GIVE IT A PLATFORM?>>ABSOLUTELY.>>WHERE IS THAT LINE?>>FOR ME, IF THE SPEAKER IS NOT INTELLECTUALLY SERVICE, SAYING THAT THEY BELIEVE WHAT THEY SAY, AND THAT THE WORLD IS BETTER FOR IT, I WILL NOT BRING A FLAT EARTH –>>PRESIDENT TRUMP SAID THAT HE WOULD CUT OFF FEDERAL FUNDING FOR UNIVERSITIES THAT PROHIBIT FREEDOM OF SPEECH THE WAY HE SEES IT. DO YOU THINK IT’S A GOOD IDEA?>>I THINK IT’S A BAD IDEA. IT’S A BLUNT INSTRUMENT. WE WANT TO WIN THE ARGUMENT. WE WANT THE IDEAS TO PREVAIL. WE WANT TO PERSUADE PEOPLE THAT THIS IS WHY FREE SPEECH MATTERS. THIS IS NOT AN INSTRUMENT THAT YOU WANT TO USE FORCE. THAT OPENS UP –>>IT’S COUNTER PRODUCTIVE.>>AND IT SETS A DANGEROUS PRECEDENT.>>YOU TOLD YOUR PEERS WHEN YOU WERE IN COLLEGE, THAT YOUR GOAL WAS TO BE THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. IS THAT STILL THE CASE?>>THAT IS STILL THE CASE. I HOPE TO BE A PUBLIC SERVANT ONE DAY. I’M INTERESTED IN PEOPLE AND PEOPLE’S STORIES AND HELPING PEOPLE HAVE BETTER STORIES AND I CARE ABOUT THE ISSUES.>>ALL RIGHT, ZACH, I WISH WE HAD MORE TIME. IT WAS A FANTASTIC BOOK. I REALLY RECOMMEND EVERYONE TO READ IT, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US TODAY.
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>>THANK YOU, ABSOLUTELY.