Free speech is a quintessential right that belongs to everyone in this country, even if their main objective propagates hate.
To isolate the dangers that come from speaking freely under hateful circumstances, a free speech zone should be required on a college campus to freely and safely voice an opinion.
College and university campuses can be microcosms of our nation’s democracy, as they are often venues for idea sharing and exciting conversation. Free speech is, after all, an integral part of the learning experience.
At Pierce, the current boundary is physical. The “free speech zone” is an appropriate and non-oppressive space where students can opt in or out of conversations of multitudinous natures.
It is important to remember that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Snyder v. Phelps was followed by the Honoring America’s Veterans Act, which limited the distance protesters could be from funerals for soldiers. The act serves as a classic checks and balances congressional move, which is another aspect of a healthy and robust democracy.
The line between free speech and hate speech has always been blurred. Even if public universities and colleges remain committed to their anti-discrimination hiring practices and have dedicated offices to promote diversity, equity and inclusion, defining boundaries of free speech is necessary.
Freedom of speech is one of the pillars of our democracy, but college and university campuses are a place of learning. To avoid distracting from the educational experience, but still have open and honest conversations, a free speech zone on campus is necessary for the free and safe sharing of opinions.