Free Speech?!

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This is probably the only time that I agree with Chomsky

Since I ‘do’ politics every day as a university instructor, I have tried to keep this blog ‘politics-free.’ However, a trend that I’ve seen as my students make me fear for my third career as a writer.

In both classes in political rhetoric and conflict studies, I’ve had students advocate for limits on speech. When I ask them what speech should be limited, they say that ‘hate speech’ or any speech that advocates violence should not be allowed. Unfortunately, their definition of hate speech is generally anything that offends a ‘protected class.’ (For those not familiar, protected classes are defined as individuals or groups defined by a particular trait.)

I point out that as a veteran I am a member of a protected class. Joining the service in 1973 (when I went to the Military Academy), I had individuals wearing that sign swear at me. — What if I say that the peace symbol is offensive? Should I get it banned as a symbol of hate speech?

As for promoting violence, I ask if they would ban the Declaration of Independence or Thomas Paine’s Common Sense both of which were cited as reasons for violent actions?

The sad part is I remember the Free Speech Movement which started on campuses and with the left. It seems now that the sensitivity of modern society and students has made a joke of these efforts.

I won’t get into the banning of books (ALA – Banned and Challenged Books) which looks like a list of great literature.

I don’t have an answer. You can classify this as a rant. But I fear for politics, society, and culture when banning any material because it might be offensive becomes acceptable and a norm.

I leave with this quote from Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart who I remember as a great defender of free speech.

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One thought on “Free Speech?!

  1. Pingback: The End of Rationality | Past and Present

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