OPINION: Free Speech and College

Austin Belet, Opinons Writer

Just this Thursday, President Trump held a press conference discussing the “attack” of freedom of speech on college campuses, and the executive order he was signing in defense.

Freedom of speech has been and will always be a fundamental right to Americans, we have prided ourselves on the ability to have a free and open discourse about the state of affairs we live in and the ideas we may consider worth conversation.

College campuses are the places where people come to grow, develop, and learn. College is where many of us get our first taste as to what life could be like on your own. For some, it’s the first time they can live out of the closet, others it’s their first time not having to put on their Sunday best, and others it gives them a chance to shake the strict confines of the life they left behind.

This is the prime time for people to explore a life they were never able to lead; ideally they can do so fearlessly and without pause.

This is the best part of the college experience.

Speakers such as Ben Shapiro, Candace Owens, or Jordan Peterson have been shouted down by students at campuses across the U.S. because they use rhetoric that actively undermines the pursuit to live a life defying cultural norms.

Should we allow this to happen?

Well according to the First Amendment, yes, we should.

Freedom to protest is just as crucial. While things like time, place, and manner can be regulated in this matter, protest is still important.

While I will not argue against people’s right to speak, I do not argue that there is a right to be heard. No where are we guaranteed a right to an audience. The speakers who have been ousted from campuses are speakers whose rhetoric have actively demeaned swaths of people. They speak against the basic human rights of persons who defy a cultural norm. They actively belittle communities of people who have frequently been under attack, and that is why they get shouted down.

Campuses have not restricted free speech, students just have used their freedom of protest. They have done it so well that it has been made to seem as though college campuses are the ones stopping out the hateful rhetoric of the alt-right, when in fact it is students who have been taught about the civil-rights campaigns, the Holocaust, and the Rwandan genocide calling the speeches out for what they are: hate.

Maybe we can get rid of safe spaces, trigger warnings, and demean a campuses ability to protect their students, but we should not ever stop our students from stopping the very rhetoric we have always been taught to speak up against.


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