Measured Against Reality

Monday, April 09, 2007

Free Speech on Campuses

If you want to get really pissed off about the state of free speech in colleges and universities, read this. I'm definitely a strong believer in "I may not agree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." I don't understand how anyone could ever try to limit anyone else's expression in any way (with the obvious exceptions of inciting riots or libel and that kind of thing).

If those students wanted to take a Hezbollah flag and stomp on it then they should be able to. Hell, if they want to make a big effigy of Muhammad and burn it then they should be able to do that too (provided, of course, that they're safe with the fire). And you know what, I have the right to call them idiots, and that's what should be done. It's the same reason that the KKK has the right to hold their rallies, and non-bigots have the right to have counter-rallies with 10 times the participants.

It just makes me so angry that this happens (and it happens all the time), and especially that it happens at the very places that tout themselves as havens for creativity, speech, and discussion. It's just sickening.

Remember, everyone has the right to free speech, whether it's unpopular, bigoted, hateful, or intolerant. If we lose that, then we have nothing.

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  • I have to agree, why define it as "free" speech if people are limited in what they say.

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and thoughts. There's not reason we should say that they can't say that?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:34 PM, April 09, 2007  

  • Hear, hear.

    It reminds me of this idiot that comes around campus at least two or three times a year. He stands on the commons and yells to the passing students that we are all going to hell unless we accept Jesus Christ as our personal savior and join his brand of Christianity, blah blah. I've got to hand it to the guy, but he's impervious to disappointment. Every time he comes to campus to speak, a group of either frat boys or members of the Free-Thinkers club will gather around and argue with him/insult his intelligence. The university has never tried to kick this crazy off the campus, nor have they attempted to break up any arguments that ensue. They consider his presence to be a part of free speech, and as much as I think this person is an idiot, and a bigot for saying those things on my campus, I'm glad the university never kicked him off.

    By Blogger Li Madison, at 7:19 PM, April 09, 2007  

  • People like you are the reason why they should ban the Internet.

    By Blogger Chonger, at 8:25 PM, April 09, 2007  

  • I think you're inflating the importance of freedom of expression. Heck, it's probably because people like you think it's ok that "if they want to make a big effigy of Muhammad and burn it then they should be able to do that too" that Muslim extremists are able to recruit radicalists so easily - because they can then justifiably say that Americans are bigoted and disrespectful of the beliefs of other people.

    I would argue that freedom of expression is not a right; it's a privilege that's accorded to responsable and mature people who will not abuse this power to influence others. If you're going to abuse the religious beliefs and cultural identities of others under your right to freedom of expression, you're just going to create discord and make the world a worse place than it already is.

    Even if it is a right, it should still be exercised responsibly, with respect and brevity. That's why censorship exists, because there're impressionable people who could easily be influenced negatively and because there're irresponsible people who would use this to their advantage.

    In short, I think your stand's too extreme. I'm all for freedom of speech and whatnot, but not if it's going to cause me to turn against my neighbours or create a climate of fear and social instability. Better safe and alive than living in fear under a false distorted notion of freedom.

    By Blogger JeNn, at 6:55 AM, April 11, 2007  

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