Social Media Speech Free speech at public universities and colleges is at once the most obvious and the most paradoxical of constitutional principles. It is obvious because given the nature of academic inquiry, only an open, robust and critical environment for speech will support the quest for truth. At the same time, universities are at once communities that must balance the requirements of free speech with issues of civility, respect and human dignity. They are also part and parcel of the larger social order with its own, often competing set of values.
Freedom of thought and expression is essential to any institution of higher learning.
Universities and colleges exist not only to transmit knowledge. Equally, they interpret, explore, and expand that knowledge by testing the old and proposing the new. This mission guides learning outside the classroom quite as much as in class, and often inspires vigorous debate on those social, economic, and political issues that arouse the strongest passions.
In the process, views will be expressed that may seem to many wrong, distasteful, or offensive. Such is the nature of freedom to sift and winnow ideas. On a campus that is free and open, no idea can be banned or forbidden.
No viewpoint or message may be deemed so hateful or disturbing that it may not be expressed. Universities and colleges are also communities, often of a residential character.
Most campuses have recently sought to become more diverse, and more reflective of the larger community,by attracting students, faculty, and staff from groups that were historically excluded or underrepresented.
Such gains as they have made are recent, modest, and tenuous. Hostility or intolerance to persons who differ from the majority especially if seemingly condoned by the institution may undermine the confidence of new members of the community.
Civility is always fragile and can easily be destroyed. In response to verbal assaults and use of hateful language, some campuses have felt it necessary to forbid the expression of racist, sexist, homophobic, or ethnically demeaning speech, along with conduct or behavior that harasses.
Several reasons are offered in support of banning such expression. Individuals and groups that have been victims of such expression feel an understandable outrage. They claim that the academic progress of minority and majority alike may suffer if fears, tensions, and conflicts spawned by slurs and insults create an environment inimical to learning.
These arguments, grounded in the need to foster an atmosphere respectful of and welcoming to all persons, strike a deeply responsive chord in the academy.
But, while we can acknowledge both the weight of these concerns and the thoughtfulness of those persuaded of the need for regulation, rules that ban or punish speech based upon its content cannot be justified.
An institution of higher learning fails to fulfill its mission if it asserts the power to proscribe ideas—and racial or ethnic slurs, sexist epithets, or homophobic insults almost always express ideas, however repugnant.
Indeed, by proscribing any ideas, a university sets an example that profoundly disserves its academic mission. Some may seek to defend a distinction between the regulation of the content of speech and the regulation of the manner or style of speech.
We find this distinction untenable in practice because offensive style or opprobrious phrases may in fact have been chosen precisely for their expressive power. As the United States Supreme Court has said in the course of rejecting criminal sanctions for offensive words: We cannot sanction the view that the Constitution, while solicitous of the cognitive content of individual speech, has little or no regard for that emotive function which, practically speaking, may often be the more important element of the overall message sought to be communicated.Speech Codes on College Campuses Essay Sample “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” (Emory Law School).
Other speech codes are content-neutral but excessively regulate the time, place, and manner of speech.
College speech regulations of this type might limit protests and demonstrations to one or two “free speech zones” on campus and/or require students to obtain permission in advance in .
In recent times the most contentious issues have involved the development of so-called speech codes designed to restrict certain kinds of speech deemed by the administration to be offensive. But the issue of free expression on campus goes beyond speech codes and involves a host of other matters.
many opponents of speech code usage on college campuses use the excuse that their speech is protected by the First Amendment, and that it should not be infringe.
The First Amendment to the Constitution protects speech no matter how offensive its content. Restrictions on speech by public colleges and universities amount to government censorship, in violation of the Constitution. Such restrictions deprive students of their right to invite speech they wish to hear, debate speech with which they disagree, and protest speech they find bigoted or offensive.
Restrictive campus speech codes are, in fact, regressive. With over chapters nationwide at Young Americans for Liberty, we are fighting against public universities that stifle free speech.