The Problem With Free Speech Areas
One of the most important things I learned in school was the importance of democracy, that we were granted the Constitution as a safeguard for every citizen in the country. College campuses are supposed to be free speech areas where debates and ideas are welcomed. Instead, we choose to suppress ideas that don’t agree with ours. Most college campuses claim to be advocates of diversity and openness, but students feel otherwise.
College campuses should advocate for the rights of their students and should provide a safe place for students to express their points of view. By having a “free speech area,” some students surely feel confident in expressing their views, but how about outside this tiny space? Would that mean that they should speak what they are told because they are outside the designated area?
In every corner of the university, students should feel free to express themselves, except when it violates the rule for hate speech or when it crosses the boundary between hate speech and fighting words.
Others might argue that there can only be full freedom of speech, including hate speech, and all other forms of expressions must be suppressed. Others also argue that there is no other way of expression but hate speech. According to the ACLU, “Where racist, sexist and homophobic speech is concerned, the ACLU believes that more speech—not less—is the best revenge.”
Others may agree to the case ACLU is trying to make, but if students follow this ideology, it would be as chaotic as it was in the eighteenth century. The First Amendment of the Constitution protects any forms of speech regardless of how offensive it is. It is unconstitutional for universities not to allow their students to fully express themselves in a way they choose how to, according to the ACLU.
Therefore, unlimited free speech should be granted to students. Not only will they practice their rights, but they will also practice educated and formal debates as a form of expression. The overwhelming outrage towards the opposite section of society has led to setting a higher standard of acceptable forms of speech, but using hate speech is the only way to address such controversy.
A censored expression is a suppressed freedom.
Balance is the answer to the problem of free speech on college campuses. Prohibiting free speech will do more harm than good, and so will providing unlimited opportunities for students to speak their minds. The only fear that students should feel is the fear of losing their voice and no one listening to them when they finally decide it’s time for them to speak.
Campuses should allow freedom of speech throughout the entire campus, and only interfere once it escalates and poses a possible threat or danger to the public. College administration must know when to intervene and stop a student from voicing their opinion.
A student standing outside the bookstore and calling women whores should be okay and acceptable, but not when someone decides to harm the student. That’s when hate speech could turn into fighting words and result in violence on both sides. Speech should not be controlled; violence, on the other hand, should be. Freedom to speak their minds should not be implemented only in designated “free speech areas,” but throughout the entire campus.