Does Free Speech Offend You?
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Does Free Speech Offend You?

August 25, 2019


Freedom of speech. The ability to express
yourself. It’s a cherished idea — as well it should be. Most of us who live in liberal
Western democracies think of it as a basic human right. People have fought and died for
it. But now we may be in danger of losing it. The threat is not coming from without — from
external enemies — but from within. A generation is being raised not to believe in freedom OF speech, but rather that they should have freedom FROM speech — from speech they dislike.
This is a threat to both pluralism and democracy itself. We see this in Europe where “sensitivity-based”
censorship attempts to ban anything deemed hateful or even just hurtful, and to ban criticism
of religion, especially Islam. But the United States, despite its strong
Constitutional protections in the Bill of Rights is far from immune from the rising
trend of suppression of speech, or what is sometimes called political correctness. This
is especially true at America’s colleges and universities, the place where our future leaders
are educated and where you’d expect speech to be the most free. Highly restrictive speech codes are now the
norm on campuses, not the exception. According to a study by my organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education — FIRE — 54% of public universities and 59% of private
universities impose politically correct speech codes on their students. And thanks to recent
Department of Education guidelines 100% of colleges may adopt speech codes in the coming years. How bad is it? At a public campus in California on Constitution
Day in 2013, a student who also happens to be a decorated military veteran was told he
could not hand out copies of the Constitution to his fellow students. The objection from
the university was not ideological; it was out of control bureaucracy imposing limits
on speech. That same day another college student in that
same state was told he could not protest NSA surveillance outside of a tiny “free speech zone,” an area that comprised only 1.37% of the campus. Months later, college students in Hawaii were
told both they could not hand out the constitution to their fellow students and that they could
not protest NSA policies outside the school’s free speech zone! FIRE took these colleges
to court, but the that fact we had to shows you how bad it has become. Recently, students and sympathetic faculty
have joined forces to exclude campus speakers whose opinions they dislike. At FIRE we call
this “disinvitation season” although the season lasts all year round. Since 2009 there has been a major uptick in
the push by students and faculty to get speakers they dislike disinvited. These speakers have
included former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; the Somali-born feminist and critic
of Islam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali; and the director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine
Lagarde. And that’s only the obvious part of the disinvitation problem. Few conservative
speakers are invited to speak at colleges lest they have to be “disinivited” later. The newest threat to speech comes from so-called
“trigger warnings” — alerts that warn students that they are about to read or hear something
that “triggers” a negative emotional response. A 2014 NY Times article cited the example
of a Rutgers student requesting “trigger warnings” for the classic American novel The Great Gatsby
because it “possesses a variety of scenes that reference… abusive, misogynistic violence.” Recently, Oberlin College attempted to institute
a policy that heavily encouraged the faculty to avoid difficult topics and to employ trigger
warnings as a means of “making classrooms safer.” “Safety” has been watered down to essentially
mean the “right to always feel comfortable.” New demands for trigger warnings are popping
up on campuses across the country. Add in popular academic theories that encourage
students to scrutinize speech for “micro aggressions — any statement that might be construed as
racially insensitive, classist, sexist, or otherwise un-PC — and it’s clear that campuses
are teaching students to police what they say. This is precisely the opposite of what is
needed. Our society needs candor and it needs freedom of speech, not freedom from speech. Intellectual comfort is not a right. Nor should
it ever be. Not if we want freedom of speech — let’s just call it freedom — to survive. I’m Greg Lukianoff, President of the Foundation
for Individual Rights in Education for Prager University.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. “I’m offended that you’re walking your dog on a ramp for handicapped people!”

    Person is literally blind with a service dog

  2. What the hell is their excuse for not letting students hand out the Constitution?! That's terrifying!

  3. I got a really really fantastic idea you don’t have to have any triggers you don’t have to have anything you don’t even have to have a book the kids go to the college do not listen to any of the teachers do not speak but go with bushels the cash that way they can pay for their college and come out just as stupid as a win in that would be a really fun idea and that way Elizabeth Warren can pay for all the schools what do we think yes or a no I like

  4. If you don't like what I have to say, don't listen to me.
    Nobody is forcing you to read or listen to my opinion.
    Trust me if I don't like what you have to say, I move on.

  5. ko deboswachter (quote) : “ Jordan Peterson answers a question about the right to 'freedom of speech' eclipsing the right to not be 'offended'.”

    “Ha, Gotcha” | Jordan B Peterson crushes Transgender debate rendering TV News host speechless

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpRpzoEJcm0

  6. Why is America going through this strange social phase? I remember when this was not the norm. I also remember when this politically correct trend was coming to the surface. I don't understand what brought this on or how it became so main stream. I was feeling it back in the early 90's. I never went along with it.

  7. Its not that they are against free speach, it is that they have an agenda that they want to push. Therefore they must shut down by any means possible to subvert whatever opposes their view

  8. Free speech offended me

    Because people use it to swear at each other everyday rather than reasoning to each other. So what’s the point of using it if nobody use braincell during their speech? (Yes, I’m talking about USA in general)

  9. Man you hit a nerve. This is literal madness. I remember 'free' speech.
    Now, it's f++kin madness man !
    It's incredible. Work and school – unbelievable.
    I understand the genesis, but the reasoning and motivations have become perverted.

  10. That's the point of freedom: To allow idiots to speak their minds. If you don't want to listen or participate when a person makes controversial sttatement, then you don't have to listen or participate. However by listening to those who offend you, you learn more about where they stand and how to understand their position intelligently.

  11. Student are coming out of college dumber nowadays.Where do these people get off making such subjective decisions who can say what ? At this point l plan on flat laughing in these people's faces.Hey dont go listen to that conservative speaker it'll destroy your life .Really ?So l take it following your dumb behind won't ?You can't make this stuff up

  12. the most important thing is to be biblically correct not politically correct that garbage came from the old Bozo administration thank God for Trump he's getting doing away with all that trashdoes Webster born again Christians born-again believers we want to be put we want to be biblically correct not politically

  13. This is exactly why President Trump enforced keywork enforced the free speechthe Free speech act he sign on colleges and universities that if they don't allow conservatives especially considering there since that's when they they will lose out millions of dollars worth in school funding they will not stop our freedoms

  14. One way to thwart the fascist libtards strangling freedom is to speak and say everything the evil wankers forbid: that is what I do.

  15. People mostly want trigger warnings for painful truths, that is, ideas they don't like to have to face up to, but which they cannot refute because they know they are true.

  16. Free Speech isn't just about intellectual discourse, it's also about exposing the vilest among us and those who wrap their hate and desire to do evil in moral supremacy. It's about accountability for what we put out into the world.

    No wonder "progressive" globalist psychopaths oppose it.

  17. This might get taken down but you what to not be hurt by what you are reading learn to deal with it when did humanity get so soft in what it needs to say I would like for sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me to more apparent in the way we talk and read because people wine when ever they see something they don't like.

  18. I always thought the only danger that "The Great Gatsby" would represent is that you could fall asleep reading it and hit your head on something.

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