Freedom of Speech: Can Liberty Be Limited - Research Paper Example

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Protection of free speech on campus questions the protection of speech that could be insensitive, rude, or harmful. Opinions that divide people fall into this category, which can include different views, religions, or racism. …
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Freedom of Speech: Can Liberty Be Limited
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"Freedom of Speech: Can Liberty Be Limited"

In “Protecting Freedom of Expression on the Campus,” Derek Bok uses the example of Confederate flags hung in Harvard dormitory windows, and the swastika flag displayed as a protest. Bok explains how limiting the free expression of these students creates more controversy and attempts to push the limits, and can eventually lead to regulation of speech. Bok sees more value in ignoring hateful speech and instead focusing on educating students and society. He says that “no community will become humane and caring by restricting what its members can say”. Bok’s argument seems stronger, as it is more supportive of liberty without moral bias but also points out that changing the law only creates more restrictions without actually solving the problem of racist thought. Lawrence is for using the law to silence racist speech, or at least punish it when it refuses to remain silent, and simply seems like it is arming minorities to fight back rather than disarm the oppressors. It seems obvious which approach deals with the real problem, and which simply bottles up hate and isolates it in a way that is almost equally oppressive. Also, bringing more restrictions to society would not improve the people and their opinions, it would only create more barriers. Making some speech illegal recognizes and points out that hate exists, but doesn’t make it change. The law should serve the purpose of protecting liberties, and regardless of how responsible, friendly, or respectful the people under that law may be. The solution to racist speech should not be in creating laws that make potential perpetrators ask themselves if it is legal to say something, but instead should be a communal, cultural, and societal movement for tolerance that makes each generation ask whether or not they want to say something. The second approach is a more fundamental solution that will have long lasting effects, just as a cultural change in opinion about the lack of sense in racial segregation has been much more powerful than laws that simply prohibit segregation. Hateful speech is still free speech, and limiting racially oriented speech is an end to free speech. Furthermore, this sort of law increases society’s fear about saying something offensive, to the point that minorities become oversensitive and would seek to punish others for comments that involve no poor intention. It is better to maintain complete freedom and focus on education than to try and force morals into the law where it is not black and white. Realistically, cases of racist speech would have to be considered individually, as it would be extremely difficult to create a law that makes clear what is acceptable and what is not. When society has to think about whether or Read More
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