Free Speech: A Pre-Debate Playlist
Today’s universities have come under attack by those who argue that a new generation of students and administrators are trading in academia’s most cherished values for political correctness and inclusion. In our upcoming debate, Trigger Warning: Safe Spaces Are Dangerous, we’ll be addressing head-on whether safe spaces are dangerously coddling young minds or are a legitimate and necessary component of modern education. Before the debate, let’s revisit a few of our free speech-related debates from the past that are still pertinent today:
1. Liberals Are Stifling Intellectual Diversity on Campus
What is college for? For many, it’s a time for personal and intellectual growth, to meet new people, and to explore ideas and philosophies that challenge their beliefs. Or is it? Recent cancellations of conservative speakers, rescinded honorary degrees, and scrutiny of certain campus groups have heightened perceptions that there is pervasive liberal intolerance on campuses. Are liberals shutting down speech and debate on campus? Or is this theory a myth, based on the preponderance of liberals at universities rather than intentionally discriminatory actions?
2. Free Speech is Threatened on Campus
Protests have erupted on university campuses across the country. To many, these students are speaking out against racial injustice that has long been manifested in unwelcoming, sometimes hostile environments. But to critics, their demands have gone too far, creating an atmosphere of intolerance for opposing or unpopular points of view. Are the protestors silencing free speech, or are they just trying to be heard? And are the universities responding by defending free speech, or by suppressing it?
3. Freedom of Expression Must Include the License to Offend
Heralding the First Amendment, proponents of free speech champion the right to expression unencumbered by government intervention. But is freedom of expression absolute and limitless? Should we be free to use words with the intention to harm? Should some words remain unspoken, or does this mindset lead us to the path of censorship?