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Speech Codes on College Campuses

Uploaded by Escada on Feb 27, 2002

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for the redress of grievances." This is the First amendment, possibly the most powerful words in American history because it guarantees American citizens their natural rights, under the supreme law of the land. Our First amendment gives us the freedom of religion, peaceful assembly, speech and press. With this simple amendment, "people can speak their innermost thoughts without fear or shame" (Hemmer 2). But, what if this glorious right causes other people fear or shame? The Constitution limits how public universities and colleges may punish students for what they say (Burns et. al. 75). As a liberal and a political science major, I believe fully in our constitutional rights. I believe "free speech is essential in the search for truth" (Hemmer 2). Although after reading Nat Hentoff's essay "Speech Codes on the Campus and the Problems of Free Speech," I have begun to wonder, like so many others, is "censorship is okay provided your motives are okay" (Hirschberg 283). Without speech codes on college campuses, minorities, women, and gays have been at the receiving end of constant harassment. Before making the judgement of whether or not there should not be speech codes on college campuses, I need to ask a couple questions.

Why is free speech so important on college campuses? Free speech is so important because universities thrive on a constant discourse of opposing ideas. I, like many other college students, have learned more from my fellow students than I have from any of my instructors. Our society and, in particular, higher education has flourished because free speech "produces an atmosphere where new ideas constantly challenge older ones" (Hemmer 2). The uniqueness of universities is that they provide an ocean of ideas, synchronized and conflicting. "Free speech is not simply the personal right of individuals to have their say; it is also the right of the rest of us to hear them," and respond to them (Burns et al. 72). As a student, a citizen, and a woman, it is my right to share ideas. I want the right to become educated with the help of other people's ideas, but I won't use my right to free speech to intentionally harm...

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Uploaded by:   Escada

Date:   02/27/2002

Category:   Social Issues

Length:   9 pages (1,971 words)

Views:   1961

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