Racism, sexism and homophobia are spreading throughout the country. Among the settings of these expressions of intolerance are colleges and university campuses. Charles R. Lawrence believes that regulating free speech can help relieve this growing plague. Author of the article Regulating Racist Speech On Campus.
Hate Speech on campus creates a hostile learning environment and tolerance of hate speech on campuses is harmful to students. Free speech will allow bigots to express their thoughts and subject their targets to a loss of equal educational opportunity.
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In the words of Charles Lawrence, It is the University s responsibility for ensuring that these students receive an equal educational opportunity provides a compelling justification for regulations that ensure safe passage in all common areas. A minority student should not have to risk becoming a target of racially assaulting speech every time he or she chooses to walk across campus. (PG 383)
A school such as the University of Michigan points out that, It disrupts the educational process and retards progress made in bringing equal opportunity and access to education for all. Students will be driven to silence in avoidance of the issues and fear of confrontation. Free speech is harmful to those who are being targeted without having an outlet to escape such verbal expressions.
Regulating speech on college campuses mocks the reason for academic freedom and inquiry. I have always tried in my class to avoid promoting my own social and political agenda, believing instead that classroom discussion, within reasonable limits, should be open and accessible for all, states Joseph Truman. Each person, when coming into college, brings with them the values, influence, and assumptions they have learned while growing up in our society.
The best way to deal with hate speech on campus is to create forums and workshops to raise awareness and promote dialogue on issues of race, sex, and sexual orientation. Colleges should increase more interactions within the different groups of people. This will create an environment where all students can exercise their rights to participate fully in campus life and activities without being discriminated against for being different.
By regulating speech, students are not being given equal opportunities for education. This proves Lawrence’s belief to be inaccurate. Though students may feel that they are being targeted by hate speech, they are being given the opportunity to learn about the situations that are going on in their lives.
Free speech rights are essential. Free speech ultimately threatens the rights of the minorities leaving them with no choice but to be quiet and hold in their beliefs. Regulations of speech are used to silence the very people they were designed to protect in the first place. Restricting the speech of one group or individual threatens everyone s rights because the same laws or regulations are used to silence the bigots and can be used to silence everyone.
However, regulation can not stop determined people to express their ideas. Doing so will only bring in more issues because students will continue to hold feelings and thoughts within and when that one-day comes when a person is pushed too far, violence will break out.
There are many cases of colleges restricting freedom of speech. One of such is at the College of Michigan. A graduate student teacher challenged the University of Michigan s rules. When lecturing a class, he was forced to remove some of his lecture materials to avoid possibly offending other members in his class. Who would know what is offensive and what is not, if you didn t hear the lecture? The teacher did comply with fear of the penalty. The case of possibly offending others was so broad. The federal court hearing the case declared Michigan s rules unconstitutional.
Where racist, sexist, and homophobic speech is concerned, more speech (not less) is the best revenge. The mission of Colleges and Universities is to facilitate learning through open debate, to study the issues and to open up or enlighten student minds with topics that are not regularly discussed. Regulating speech on campuses is not the way to go.
Hate speech is the expression of bigotry and prejudice – and these in turn are the products of ignorance. I know no better place to address ignorance than in our schools, and no better way to do so than in exposing all of our ideas, good and bad, ugly or beautiful, to the light of scrutiny within our classes – Joseph Truman.
College is where all views should be heard and explored. Students should tolerate the ideas and opinions of others, even when the ideas are hateful and offensive. When hate speech is out in the open, people can see the problem. They can organize effectively to counter bad ideas, possibly change them, and produce togetherness against intolerance amongst the so-called different people.