Over the past decade, there has been a rise in cases of verbal abuse as well as violence directed towards lesbian, color, and gay members of society (ACLU). This is among other historically persecuted groups in the United States. Among the settings of such expressions of prejudice are colleges as well as university campuses. This is where such biased incidents have ensued intermittently since the mid of the 1980s. Outrage, resentment, and demands for the transformation have faced such incidents. This is understandably because most of these institutions lack social and racial diverse groups of students and faculty members compared to other campuses in different parts of the world.
For several years, some of the universities in the U.S. have struggled with the issue of trying to resolve the civil liberties of free speech with the needs to evade racial tension (Derek 1). Even some institutions like Harvard University have made strives to control the use of speech codes in the university (Volokh). For instance, they had a discussion about general speech code that was capable of controlling speech throughout the campus. Both universities and colleges are communities, normally of a residential character. In recent years, numerous learning institutions have sought to become more racially and culturally diverse. As a result, they have invited persons from communities that were historically underrepresented in society. This has attracted verbal assaults or aggression towards some of the learners from the minority communities. In response to this issue, some campuses and colleges in the U.S. have felt it necessary to enact speech censorship within their institutions. Nevertheless, while the public can acknowledge the significance of such concerns in the learning institutions, it cannot be justified to ban speech in the learning institutions based on its content. This is because most institutions would fail in fulfilling their missions if they assert the power to proscribe various ideas.
Ethnic or racial slurs, homophobic insults as well as sexist epithets always express ideas, however, repugnant the ideas might be in such contexts. Indeed, if a learning institution proscribes any ideas through speech censorship, it sets an example that profoundly misserves its stated academic mission. Some academicians may seek to defend the differentiation between regulation of the manner or style of speech and regulation of the content of speech. However, such a distinction might prove untenable in practice since some of the opprobrious phrases of offensive content might have been chosen specifically for their expressive potentials. Such are essential aspects of speech that should be permitted when undertaking any form of academic enlightenment. This can be achieved if the freedom of thought and expression can be upheld in all learning institutions.
Speech codes have been developed in this constitutional milieu. They have become the most controversial way through, numerous universities across the U.S. have attempted to strike a balance between the freedom of expression and the students’ community order. The primary reason why the speech codes have been enacted is to control the usage of hate speech by people in learning institutions. The hate speeches are utterances meant to discredit or prejudice particular people or a group of persons on the basis of their gender, sexual orientation, race as well as ethnicity. Today, more precincts of speech in numerous learning institutions are becoming increasingly implemented. This has raised a concern question, is this a good thing?
Arguably, numerous people believe that speech codes in learning institutions should be abolished. This is principally because they violate the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Others believe that the speech codes are awfully vague and equivocal, and they reduce the beliefs, thoughts as well as ideas of the students who are subjected to them. In the past, even the courts have held that offensive speech may not be regulated in public forums. Which are the places such as streets where a listener may have an option to avoid a speech by avoiding the person uttering an offensive speech (Lawrence 2). In the U.S., most university campuses and colleges have enforced hate speech codes that permit the freedom of speech but at the same time protect the learners rights to partake copiously in campus life without the chance of being discriminated.
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The case of Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire in 1942 can be used to define the students right to partake fully in the campus life (Justia). This is without being discriminated by other learners using hate speech. The U.S. Supreme Court stated that an intimidating speech directed towards a specific person should only be in the form of a one-to-one direct confrontation and result into fighting words. As such, the perpetrating persons can be punished in case their words inflict injury or attempt to incite an instant breach of peace on the victim. Nevertheless, most of the hate speeches performed in the learning institutions are not done directly towards a single person but towards a generalized underrepresented group. As such, speech codes should not be enforced in learning institutions as a way of protecting learners from verbal aggression.
Well-meaning on not, it is plausible that speech codes should not be implemented and enforced in higher learning institutions. This is because the First Amendment of the Constitutions safeguards all forms of speech, despite the offensive content of speech. This means that any form of speech codes adoption by any colleges and university campuses in the U.S. is a violation of the national Constitution. It is imperative for all education institutions to adhere to the First Amendment Principles because academic freedom is the fundamental base of quality education in a free society. A speech that deeply offends any person’s morality or appears hostile to their ways of life deserves the same constitutional protection as other speeches. This is primarily because the right of speech in the state is indivisible. If a single person is denied this right, other public members are equally denied the same right. This is the national constitutional mandate in reference to the Right to the Freedom of Expression.
College administrators may find speech codes to be an attractive, quick solution for verbal aggressiveness against students. Nevertheless, verbal quality does not mean social change. This is because the speech codes that only chastise bigoted speech treat only the symptom of the speech problem amongst learners. Instead, the actual problem that should be treated is the bigotry. Instead of using gestures that only appear to cure the underlying problem, universities and colleges should strive to recruit more students and faculty members with cultural and ethnic diversity attributes. This way, the school environment will have a population where every ethnic group is equally represented and less susceptible to speech prejudice by some of the learners in institutions. They should also undertake counseling as a way of raising the awareness of bigotry as well as its history. The learning institutions should also change the curricula used and instead institutionalize a more inclusive approach to all the subject matters learned in education institutions.
The Balance Between the Right to Freedom and Expression Under the First Amendment and the Right to Equal Education Opportunity Under the Fourteenth Amendment
When discussing the aspect of having free speech in education institutions, it is essential to consider the right for the freedom of expression under the First Amendment and the right to equal education opportunity as stated by the Fourteenth Amendment. The First Amendment largely restricts the rights of public institutions, such as colleges and university campuses, to regulate the students’ right of speech or expression on all sorts of topics and settings. The Amendment essentially restricts the creation of any laws abridging the freedom of speech or infringing the freedom of press in the state. Under this amendment, college and university students are free to speak their minds while in the public school compound. There are different ways they can make a speech. For instance, they might wear T-shirts that contains messages. They could also dye their hair using funky colors or wear various forms of jewelry that make a public statement.
Nevertheless, even with the protection offered by the First Amendment, there are limits to which this freedom of speech can be exercised in learning institutions. This is because there are several speeches in public learning institutions that are not protected by the First Amendment. Such include the speeches with obscenity, fighting words, defamation, perjury, child pornography, true threats, blackmail and solicitations to commit crimes. However, irrespective of such degraded forms of speech, all students have a right to freely make speeches in colleges or universities without any fear of punishment by the administration. It is through good communication that students can attain a wide exposure to the robust exchange of ideas between themselves. This will also lead to the progress in recognizing social diverse learning environment free from verbal prejudice against some students in the concerned learning institutions.
The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution has a provision for offering equal education opportunity to all persons in the nation. The amendment was a part of the Reconstruction process that took place after the Civil War. After performing several constitutional amendments, the federal government decided to enforce the Act that offered equal opportunities to all citizens of the nation, including the slaves who had been freed. Today, the amendment has a strong influence on the education system. This is by providing the rights for all students in the state to have equal access to public education. In this context, students in both colleges and university campuses have an equal right to be in such institutions. This means they are entitled to all the social and educational facilities available in the US. In addition, by extension, they are also titled to other provisions such as the freedom of expression as well as speech. This is as provisioned by the First Amendment of the Constitution. In light of the above discussion, in order to promote the appropriateness of a free speech in learning institution, a balance between the Right to Freedom and Expression Under the First Amendment and the Right to Equal Education Opportunity under the Fourteenth Amendment should be developed.
Internet Censorship – Google was Banned in China
The phrase Internet censorship characterizes the control or suppression of the content that can be accessed, viewed or published over the Internet. It mostly performed by the government or private bodies. A good illustration of information censorship is the banning of Google search engine in China. Internet censorship in China was performed mainly due to a wide variety of laws as well as administrative regulations concerning controlling the information being accessed by the public. Currently, more than sixty Internet usage regulations have been enacted by the Chinese government, through the provincial branches of ISP corporations. Today, the framework of the China’s Internet control is considered to be the most extensive and advanced regulation compared to any other region in the world.
Although the government can have a good reason for undertaking the Internet censorship, its poses adverse effects to its own education systems. Through the censorship, the government aims to control the depiction of acts of violence and pornographic content among other explicit contents to the public. This is with the underlying objective of fostering a socially disciplined public. This strategy has been supported by some renowned feminists in the world such as Susan Jacoby who has supported censorship to control the depiction of pornography in magazines, movies and porn books (Jacoby).Nevertheless, the Internet is a powerful learning tool that is used by numerous students and learning institutions around the world. It eases the access to research information for various programs and educational subjects. Thus, the Internet censorship limits the students’ freedom of speech, violates their basic human rights, and denies them a chance to advance by understanding the world around them. By undertaking the Internet censorship, China has adversely affected most students in various learning institutions.
In light to this illustration of China’s Internet censorship, it is evident that speech censorship in the United States can have numerous adverse effects on students in colleges and university campuses. The Internet can allow students to share their views on various issues and topics related to their curriculum. It has also facilitated the creation of the digital online educational platforms where learners can take courses relevant to their fields of interest. Such courses could range from sex education to cyber hacking courses, which might not necessary be meant for destruction or violence perpetration in the society. In order to such educational programs to occur without a hitch, any form of speech censorship should not be undertaken. Instead, learners should be offered a chance to discern the beneficial online information from the destructive information for their own gain.
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Speech codes compromise the quality of education offered to numerous students in colleges and university campuses across the United States. This is because they violate the aspect of free speech which is an important learning strategy in the national education institutions. Instead of censoring the free speech offered by colleges and universities, learners should be encouraged to debate, learn and acquire exposure to a wide variety of beneficial information through free speeches. Instead of greatly concentrating on restricting offensive speeches, which are already exposed to the public, institutions should encourage their racially and culturally diverse students to learn through an open study or debate. Moreover, in case offensive languages are used during a speech, learners can have a chance to recognize, dissect and discuss offensive language. This is a way that fosters good combination rather than stifling the data.
In light of this discussion, speech codes violate the students’ ability to have free speech in a learning environment. Colleges and universities are often face an existential crisis when they are forced to fight the issues of hate speech and emblematically expressed aspects of intolerance (Marcus 113). Free speeches are some of the best ways that students can express themselves to others in communication. Although, speech codes are designed for protecting the underrepresented persons in learning institutions against verbal violence, they pose a greater advantage in aiding the students to learn. A good example of speech censorship in society is Google search engine. The usage of the web search engine was banned in the Republic of China. This form of censorship affected the education system of the nation in a large way by limiting the students’ access to crucial academic curriculum information. Although the ban was enacted for a good reason, the effect of the censorship hampered the ability of numerous college and university learners to gain much knowledge about other parts of the world. In addition, world leaders should encourage the public not to use offensive speeches when addressing their fellow citizens. Therefore, President Obama should be hailed for his phrase “fairness is a better mantra than equality.” (Fish). The statement was aimed at promoting peace among people through the appropriate use of speech codes when addressing others in American society.