Tag: Free speech zones are bad

Beware the Beast of Political Correctness

By Addie Mae Villas | USA

As we speak, American culture is going through a massive shift, and in no positive direction. In fact, we are losing societal recognition for one of the most basic liberties: freedom of speech. In modern American culture, there is now a desire to avoid speech that may trigger or offend an individual or group. This shift, the desire for an increase in political correctness, began as a form of common courtesy. However, it has mutated to the point of censorship of both facts and unpopular opinions. The atmosphere created by a politically correct (PC) culture not only spews out misinformation to protect feelings, but twists facts to ensure the happiness of others. This false reality is dangerous on many levels. When left unchecked, it will undoubtedly create a society that blurs the lines between fact and fiction.

Unsurprisingly, PC culture is not exclusive to either economic side of the political spectrum. Although the left shows a number of extreme cases of PC and censorship, the right is no different. In 2017, the Cato Institute, conducted a Free Speech and Tolerance Survey, in which they analyzed Americans’ beliefs on censorship. Simply put, the results were frightening. In it, 53% of Republicans polled favored taking U.S. citizenship from people who burned the American flag. To supplement, 65% of Republicans believed that NFL players should be fired for refusing to stand for the national anthem. Naturally, many individuals simply claim this is national pride. Yet, by supporting restrictions of American freedom, they immediately ruin the very values they claim pride in.

In addition, politically correct Republican culture often leads to blind respect for our law enforcement. While it is true that police officers are valuable members of society, this does not excuse their abuses of power. The shooting of Daniel Shaver is a clear example of said abuse. Though the victim was unarmed and begging for his life, officer Philip Brailsford still shot and killed him. Despite the officer’s murder of Shaver, the Republican party remained silent. Instances like these prove the hypocrisy of the PC right. Though quick to judge the damage caused by the left, many forget that they are guilty of the same faults.

On the contrary, the economic left is equally guilty of a damaging PC culture. Free speech zones on college campuses are a prime example of such damage, with speech restricted beyond certain areas. Moreover, the Cato Institute found that 51% of Democrats support legally forcing Americans to use a transgender’s preferred pronoun. Though doing so is polite, we do not legislate politeness. Such a law is an example of government overreach. If someone wants to misgender someone, that is solely up to the person, not the state, to decide.

After looking at the faults of both sides, which party happens to be the greater offender? The Cato Institute poll found that Democrats are more likely to support banning offensive language. As time passes, the list of offensive terms only increases. In fact, 80% of surveyed Democrats believe that it is hateful or offensive to declare that America should deport illegal immigrants. When so many individuals believe that truths and opinions are derogatory and harmful, civil debate quickly fades away.

In today’s world, discussion is something that needs to happen to prevent a major catastrophe. Currently, Cato reported that 71% of people believe PC has prevented conversations we need in society. One can easily look to oppressive governments to see the damage of restricting free speech. America is rapidly moving in that direction, and a clear change in culture is necessary to protect our liberties.

(Image courtesy of historyofjournalism.onmason.com)


Free Speech Zones: A Backhanded Slap to Students

By Addie Mae Villas | USA

In the day of age of trigger warnings and safe spaces, free speech zones have been appearing on college campuses everywhere, restricting free speech for thousands. What once started as a way to provide a safe way for anti-Vietnam War protesters, has now become an easy pathway to suppress the voices of those with the “unpopular opinion” and dare to challenge the agenda of the universities. Not only are these free speech zones often completely unconstitutional, but they eliminate the discussion that is so often associated with higher levels of learning.

The fight for free speech has always been a hard fight battle. More times than not we see brave students taking on the establishment of their schools to fight for what they deserve. One prime example of this can be seen in Tinker v. Des Moines, a landmark case that stated students still have rights, mainly the First Amendment, when on public funded land. The decision was based on the fact that “Students don’t shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gates.”, meaning that students have every right to peacefully protest, gather, and say anything they want without repercussions from the school. This case not only showed that students cannot be silenced but also became the basis for unlaw action against students. The fight for the First Amendment rights can also be seen in Healy v. James, which was judged on the Tinker Standards, and came to the basis that the organization, Students for a Democratic Society, had every right to use school buildings to have their meetings, seeing as public universities were public forums. This is also backed by the Equal Access Act that prevents schools from discriminating against religious, political, or philosophical groups that wish to have met and share their message.  There are many other cases that have set a precedence of not denying rights to students on public land, yet students are still be censored and confined to their views.

Currently, 33.9% of public colleges and universities received a red light rating from FIRE, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The red light rating is defined as a speech code that “both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech, or that bars public access to its speech-related policies” this is supplemented by the fact that red light ratings are a direct violation of the First Amendment. This is down from 79% in 2009, but 33.9% is still a substantial amount of schools, especially when 52.8% of the schools looked at received a yellow light rating, that implies the school has policies that could be seen as suppression of students right to expression. With schools implementing free speech zones, sometimes as small as 616 square feet at Pierce College, it not only confines the reach of the messages trying to be advocated but also gives colleges and universities the option to pick and choose the rules they want to follow. The Pierce College case is important for the fact that the students were met with opposition for handing out Spanish versions of the Constitution. By suing Pierce College, Kevin Shaw hopes to show the violation of the First Amendment for restricting speech to a set zone, but also requiring a permit and a set time for the distribution of materials or the spreading of a message.

College campuses were once the place for healthy and lively discussion and debate. Now, it is filtered to ensure that no one is harmed by the truth and limits interaction and dialogue. Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that colleges “a place of robust debate,” had become “an echo chamber of political correctness and homogenous thought, a shelter for fragile egos.” Going back to the Tinker v. Des Moines case, a student doesn’t lose their rights to free speech or assembly when they enter the world of academia. In the words of George Orwell “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” Although the truth may hurt, it still deserves to be shared and not restricted by the authority above.