Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Tuesday, October 24, 2017 09:59:57 AM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Defending right to speech

By
13th-May-2017       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Lee Rowland :
Controversial, critical, confrontational, and challenging speech is an essential part of any successful college education. Without it, institutions of higher education cannot truly be said to be preparing students for the world outside of the ivory tower. For many, a college campus is the last stop on the train to true adulthood. Part of being an adult in America means living our constitutional values - foremost among them, our First Amendment rights to make our opinions heard - and to listen to others speak.
The Supreme Court has spilled barrels of ink defining the First Amendment rights of students, from kindergarten to post-graduate studies. And there's no question that the law has resolved into an age-based sliding scale: For young ones, the core goals are safety and discipline. But as students age, the shadows of the Constitution start to spread across the school day. By the time students graduate from high school, courts expect freedom of speech to be not just in the students' best interests, but the schools' interest as well.
And that's not just because free speech is a formalistic constitutional principle; it's an indispensable part of our civic education. Justice Robert H. Jackson, writing for the Supreme Court in 1943, wrote something truly beautiful about the purpose of an education: "That they are educating the young for citizenship is reason for scrupulous protection of Constitutional freedoms of the individual, if we are not to strangle the free mind at its source and teach youth to discount important principles of our government as mere platitudes."
Remarkably, Jackson was referring to grade school students, and the court rightly held that forcing patriotism on little ones was both unconstitutional and foolish.
If we think inculcating constitutional values is important when kids are in K-12, it should be nothing less than a core part of the curriculum at any college or university.
Soon, your students will graduate. And when they do, they'll step into the maelstrom of civic life, which can be, frankly, horrific. By constitutional design, ours is a world where homophobic street preachers have a right to accost you at a funeral for a loved one, where avowed racists can bring a Nazi rally to your town, where Congress has no right to criminalize appalling images of animal violence.
I suspect that many students would like to be able to effectively counter-protest the Westboro Baptist Church. Or effortlessly dismantle the racist garbage spewed by today's alt-right. Or publicize and advocate against animal cruelty. I sure hope they do! Because we need them to tackle public policy issues with the confidence of a generation determined to better us all.
That means being an advocate: speaking out and convincing others. Confronting, hearing, and countering offensive speech we disagree with is a skill. And one that should be considered a core requirement at any school worth its salt.
But as students age, the shadows of the Constitution start to spread across the school day.
To be clear, I am not suggesting that free speech is without grave costs. I cannot imagine the pain that Holocaust survivors felt knowing that the KKK would march through their towns or the anguish a grieving father felt when his son's funeral was surrounded by the petty signage of hate. On campus, if and when speech crosses the line into targeted harassment or threats or creates a pervasively hostile environment for vulnerable students, it isn't protected. We fortunately have federal laws to ensure safe learning environments and equal access for all students.
But being offended does not rise to that level. We live in an odd country, where the very First Amendment in our Bill of Rights protects hateful speech until it crosses that line.
But that same First Amendment also protects the most heart-swelling markers of our democracy: the right to speak our values, to have a press free from censorship, to gather en masse in the streets and speak truth to power. Our Constitution protects hateful speech, yes - but on the theory that truly free speech means the best ideas will win out. We need students trained to really listen to ideas they hate - and respond with better ones.
In that regard, recent incidents suggest that colleges are fundamentally failing their students in imparting these skills. In just the past few weeks, from one campus to another and another and another, liberal students have silenced conservative speakers with violence, outrage, and threats. This collection of heckler's vetoes is the farthest thing from a victory for the progressive causes these students champion.
These incidents have not shut down a single bad idea. To the contrary, they've given their opponents' ideas credence by adding the power of martyrdom. When you choose censorship as your substantive argument, you lose the debate. Because none of us are the wiser about the better world those protesting students want to see - instead of telling us, they silenced others. In curricular terms: They didn't do the assignment.
When students leave the nest of higher education, they will immediately be thrust into a rough-and-tumble world filled with things many of us don't want to see: racism, sexism, ableism, cruelty. But we all know these things won't go away if we close our eyes. We need a next generation of students trained to take a deep breath, open their eyes, and change that world with their words and ideas.
(Lee Rowland (@berkitron) is a Staff Attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project).

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

International »

Russia accuses US coalition of decimating Raqqa


Al Jazeera News :Russia has accused the US-led coalition of bombing the Syrian city of Raqqa "off the face of the Earth," in the same way the Allied powers bombed Germany's Dresden during World War II.Russia's Defence Ministry said in a statement on Sunday that 200,000 people lived in Raqqa ...

Editorial »

Proper management of medical waste


RECKLESSLY handling of medical waste is posing serious threat to public health due to presence of infectious materials. It is directly causing infections to human beings and animals and also polluting air and water to make life unsafe. The medical waste disposal system in most public and private hospitals is ...

Football »

Archery to get City Group patronized


With a view to win a medal in the Olympic Games Tokyo-2020 Bangladesh Archery Federation signed a deal with City Group, the manufacturer of 'Teer' products, at the BOA auditorium on Monday.As per the deal, Bangladesh Archery Federation will receive an amount of Taka 1.80 crore per annum from the ...

Entertainment »

Rajkummar Rao literally breaks a leg


Actor Rajkummar Rao who was shooting for Farah Khan’s TV show Lip Sing Battle has fractured his leg on the set. Farah Khan is the host of the show in which celebrities compete with each other in lip sync battle and this time Rajkummar Rao and Kriti Sanon were competing ...

City »

Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Akhtaruzzaman visited round the art exhibition titled `Jalkely` at Zainul Gallery of the Fine Arts Faculty of DU after inaugurating it on Monday.


Editorial »

Govt can`t pay for losing jute mills


 A LEADING daily reported Sunday that the Textiles and Jute Ministry has demanded to the Finance Ministry for allocating Tk 800 crore in loan so that it can pay workers and employees of state-owned jute mills the allowances that remained overdue for years. The jute industry is a losing concern ...

Sports »

National senior Table Tennis begins tomorrow


The 37th National senior Table Tennis Championship will be beginning on Tuesday (October 24) at Shaheed Tajuddin Wooden Floor gymnasium in the city with the participation of 45 teams. Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed is expected to inaugurate the six-day meet as chief guest. A total of 240 players - 180 ...

Sports »

Steffi Graf (left) and Andre Agassi arrive for the David Foster Foundation 30th Anniversary Miracle Gala and Concert, in Vancouver, British Columbia on Saturday.


Entertainment »

Shraddha Kapoor sprains her foot due to exertion


Shraddha Kapoor who has been on a rigorous shooting schedule for her next film Saaho along with the Bahubali actor Prabhas, injured her ankle due to over exertion. The actress is also simultaneously prepping up for the Saina Nehwal biopic besides shooting for Saaho in Hyderabad. Shraddha recently uploaded a ...

City »

Speakers at a press conference organised by Citizens for Good Governance in DRU auditorium on Sunday in protest against proposal for the cancellation of pledge by poll candidates.


International »

ISIS` end `in sight`, says Trump after historic Raqa victory


AFP, Washington :US President Donald Trump said Saturday a transition can soon begin to set conditions for lasting peace in Syria now that the end of the ISIS "caliphate is in sight" with the fall of Raqa.The United States and its allies will support diplomatic negotiations "that end the violence, ...

Editorial »

Rains halt life: City fathers cannot cope, govt too happy with lies of success


WATERLOGGING has long been an inevitable part of our urban scenario that causes immense suffering to the city dwellers almost all the year round. After torrential rain, most parts of Dhaka, Chittagong, and other major cities go under knee-to-waist-deep water for several hours to few days. Despite, pouring millions of ...

Sports »

Injury ends Tamim's SA tour


Left handed opener Tamim Iqbal has been ruled out of the South Africa tour after aggravating a thigh injury. The 28-year-old opener is expected to return home tomorrow (Sunday) and will not be part of third ODI and the upcoming two-match T20Is series. The dashing opener sustained the injury to ...

Entertainment »

Have Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif fallen back in love?


They're one of the most loved on-screen couples of our times. Ever since Salman Khan introduced Katrina Kaif to Bollywood, his influence on her career has been immense. He's always looked after her and she's always sought advice from him. Even though either of them never made it public, it ...

Entertainment »

What happened when Aaradhya Bachchan met Rekha?


The Ambani's love throwing 'em lavish parties at their Mumbai residence Antilla. And off late, they've been throwing one party after another for our Bollywood celebs. Be it Ganpati or Diwali… the best of Bollywood heads to South Mumbai for the lavish festivities.  A tad late but an insider present ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news