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Censorship We Must Not Restrict Speech

554 words - 2 pages

We Must Not Restrict Speech

 

               Racism, sexism and homophobia is growing on college campuses around

the country.  In response, many universities have adopted policies that

address bigotry by placing restrictions on speech. The alternative to such

restrictions, many administrators argue, is to allow bigots to run rampant

and to subject their targets to a loss of equal educational opportunity.

The power of a university to eliminate bias on campus ultimately depends

not on its ability to punish a racist speaker, but instead on the depth of

its commitment to the principles of equality and education.  Many

universities, under pressure to respond to the concerns of those who are

the objects of hate, have adopted codes or policies prohibiting speech that

offends any group based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual

orientation.

 

               That's the wrong response, well-meaning or not.  The First

Amendment to the United States Constitution protects speech no matter how

offensive its content.  Speech codes adopted by government financed state

colleges and universities amount to government censorship, in violation of

the Constitution.  And the ACLU believes that all campuses should adhere to

First Amendment principles because academic freedom is a bedrock of

education in a free society.  No social institution is better suited to

fight bigotry than the university. It can do so in its courses and perhaps

most importantly through the way it conducts itself as a community.  We're

not talking about choosing between the First Amendment and the Fourteenth

Amendment. We're talking about choosing between regulating speech and

regulating action. Murder is illegal. Talking about it isn't.  Freedom of

thought and expression is particularly important on the college campuses.

The educational forum is where individuals come together to participate in

a process of shared inquiry and where the success of that...

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