Free Speech Essay

Free Speech Essay-53
Still, the surest evidence of censorship or the suppression of ideas on college campuses is the disinvitation of controversial speakers.There are more than 4,500 colleges and universities in the United States, and each year they host thousands of speakers of all political stripes.

Still, the surest evidence of censorship or the suppression of ideas on college campuses is the disinvitation of controversial speakers.There are more than 4,500 colleges and universities in the United States, and each year they host thousands of speakers of all political stripes.

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According to FIRE, a watchdog group that focuses on civil liberties in academia, only 11 speakers were disinvited from addressing college audiences in 2018.

This is a minuscule fraction of the universe of speakers who express their views annually on American campuses.

While the words of the First Amendment are enduring—“Congress shall make no law …

abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”— their interpretation has been far from immutable.

Moreover, the prevailing American conception of free speech and press rights is a relatively recent development when located in the sweep of time and the history of our nation.

The challenge of resolving the tensions inherent in a tolerant society is still very much with us and is likely to remain so.In both these capacities, I can attest that attitudes about the First Amendment are evolving—but not in the way President Trump thinks.The president’s claim that the campus free-speech order was needed to defend “American values that have been under siege” ignored two essential facts.I have served for more than two decades as a university president, the past 17 years leading Columbia University.I am also a lifelong First Amendment scholar and have written books and essays to try to understand and explain why our laws and norms have evolved as they have.Conor Friedersdorf: Camille Paglia can’t say that Americans should not confuse a First Amendment that is codified with a First Amendment that is calcified.In landmark case after case, the First Amendment has continued to evolve as new threats to the exercise of free expression have emerged.These speakers encountered varying degrees of student protest, an essential feature of a true free-speech environment that not only welcomes but relishes contentious debate.It’s true that, in recent years, there have been more than a few sensational reports—at places such as Middlebury, William & Mary, and UC Berkeley—of misguided demands for censorship on campus, providing a ready, if false, narrative about liberal colleges and universities retreating from the open debate they claim to champion.These rights have repeatedly been given new meaning during moments in our nation’s history characterized by intolerance, fearmongering, and censorship, when freedom of speech and the press came under attack.The period following World War I provided the first of these moments, and it did not go well for freedom of expression.

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