Freedom of Speech: Exploring Proper Limits

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The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution runs, “Congress shall make no law….abridging the freedom of speech or of the press” (U.S. Constitution, as cited in Goshgarian, 2011, p. 183). Judging from this, free speech of campus should be an important privilege of each student who cares about educational matters. However, questions restricted to the so-called “politically correct” speech have become an important topic because of spread of political influence on campus life in the United States. On the one hand, proclaiming freedom of speech among students on campus can contradict the fixed values and beliefs accepted in colleges and universities. On the other hand, students should be able to express their opinions about different issues that matter to them. In such a way, they can learn and introduce changes to those questions. In this respect, students should not be limited to expressing themselves as long as their speech is genuine, consistent, and transparent.

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Students should feel free while providing objective expressions of their beliefs and thoughts on campus. Their speech should not be passionate but genuine and consistent. In this respect, they can learn about issues that interest them. Discussing things and problems publicly can help them recognize problems within a campus and provide possible solutions to improving quality of education. While studying at a community in California, students are interested in studying different disciplines. However, they also provide their opinion about different things that relate to an academic process. I believe that college administrators should consider all students’ opinions to make the learning process easier and more interesting. I was present at one of the meetings devoted to learning process. Teachers and administrators encouraged students to give their opinion on it. I think that this kind of expression is useful because each college or university should have deep faith in knowledge and learning. Moreover, it should create effective ways leading to objective discussion of topics rather than to spreading hate beliefs and thoughts (Delgado, 2011, p. 194).

Genuineness and authenticity are the main attributes of freedom of speech. Limited possibilities for expressing thoughts and ideas does not help develop and improve moral norms and values. Students should discuss the issues and identify existing problems, especially when it comes to racial and sexual discrimination. In fact, there should be distinction between passionate and subjective assaults of sexual and racial minorities (Leo, 2011, p. 187). For instance, open debates on sexual and gender oppression do not contradict the existing moral and ethical codes. On the contrary, it introduces clarity and underlines the importance of the critical issue. Studying at the community college is always a challenge for the international student like me because I have to face cultural and national challenges. But I do not mind discussing gender and racial issues because cultural diversity is a popular phenomenon nowadays. I have heard of both positive and negative opinions about minority students, but I believe that giving publicity to such issues can solve the problem of cultural distinctions. I also took an active part in different meeting dedicated to protection of the minorities’ rights, but these meetings were not aggressive. Their main purpose was actually to unite different cultures to share experience between peoples. So, an overt approach to expressing opinions can solve challenging problems of racial, social, and gender discrimination. Otherwise, ignorance of the problem can even worsen the situation and leave the things unsolved.

Limiting freedom of speech can make students fear to express their positions and opinions about urgent issues, which prevents students from exercising transparency of discussion on campus. In this respect, many students will not be able to take part in the social and political life on campus because it can have a negative impact on their learning. However, students should realize that free speech should not be the source for conflict among political powers, but an objective representation of their ideological, political, and educational views on life on campus. Dishonest and biased expression of thoughts should be discouraged and controlled to avoid misunderstanding among students. At the very beginning of my studying, I noticed how much attention was paid to the political discussions on campus. I had to reveal my political beliefs with other students because this was the only topic that interested them. Because college administrators focus on support and advocacy of students’ rights, I did not have problems with protecting my position. I realized that politics and freedom of speech are not the same. Universities should respect the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, especially when political influence is used to impose personal opinions on others.

In conclusion, students should have the right to express themselves freely unless what they are stating is true. Students should be able to protect their rights and freedoms and apply to existing tools and laws to support their beliefs. Therefore, while expressing themselves, they should be aware of the outcomes. More importantly, a free speech should be independent of any political influence, though students have the right to introduce their attitude to politics and join either of political wings.

References

Delgado, R. (2011). Hate Cannot Be Tolerated. In G. Goshgarian (Ed.), What Matters in America. Canada: Pearson Education Canada. pp. 193-195.

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Goshgarian, G. (2011). What Matters in America. Canada: Pearson Education Canada.

Leo, J. (2011). Free Inquiry? Not on Campus. In G. Goshgarian (Ed.), What Matters in America. Canada: Pearson Education Canada, pp. 184-193.

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