Should there be limits to free speech on colleges campuses? | The Tylt
Should there be limits to free speech on colleges campuses?
Many women, people of color and non-Christian religious groups say their universities should not provide cover and legitimacy for overtly bigoted speakers who promote racism and violence. But some question whether it's actually better to bring racist people into the light so activists can demonstrate against their bigotry.
One of the best arguments for free speech is that censorship drives dangerous ideologies underground and allows these views to fester unchecked. Isn't it better to have even offensive and hateful speech above ground to hold bigots accountable for their views?
But the thing is, we do draw lines around speech. Americans are not permitted to threaten the president. Our Supreme Court famously decided that free speech does not extend to "shouting fire in a crowded theater." Many argue white supremacists are essentially fanning the flames of racialized and gendered hatred—with violent results. Would universities permit someone to speak who promoted pedophilia? See—we do draw circles around the boundaries of discourse. So, are those who advocate the removal of non-white people from America or virulent anti-Semitism outside those boundaries?
Many marginalized groups and liberals don't think American universities should give white supremacist rhetoric a platform. Unfortunately, racists have plenty of places to spew their invective—including speaking freely (and trolling) on Reddit and Twitter.
But when Milo was physically assaulted while speaking at Chicago's DePaul University, even antiracist liberals were concerned a dangerous precedent was being set. Critics argue that tearing microphones out of the hands of offensive speakers is bad optics at best. DePaul and other universities couldn't host speakers—like Yiannopoulos and Ben Shapiro—because the security costs in order to protect them were prohibitive. But does that choice allow the threat of violence to dictate policy? Is it rewarding people who threaten speech they disagree with?
First Amendment advocates argue that all speech must be protected—even when we consider it offensive. But who decides?