The University of New Mexico
Hate Speech in Public Areas and Universities
Joseph A. Armijo
Mr. James Bodington
Word Count: 1,712
The freedom of speech is protected under the First Amendment of our constitution. Through this right, great strides or acts have been made that are revered in American history. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was able to take steps in abolishing segregation through his powerful and effective speeches. Civil disobedience, standing up to oppression, rewriting the normality’s of social injustice can all be accomplished by the freedom of speech. However, unfortunately in our society, people tend to abuse their rights and spread the ideas of racism, social injustice, and inequality. Moreover, I think speech in public settings especially universities and other higher education institutions should be regulated, limited, especially in the spewing of hate speech. I would like to strongly state that there is a very fine line between free speech and hate speech.
After reviewing the ACLU’s analysis on “Hate Speech on Campus,” I think it is important to note the stance the ACLU takes in regards to hate speech. The ACLU believes, “that all campuses should adhere to First Amendment principles because academic freedom is a bedrock of education in a free society.”(ACLU, 2017) I think this is exactly the opposite of what higher education emphasizes in our American society. Higher education, in my own opinion, is the spreading of ideas, thoughts, and innovative strategies through communication, teachings, and adherence to common objectives. I think progressiveness in higher education is much more abundant and cherished in comparison to the masses. Furthermore, the fact that the ACLU defends the atrocious acts of hate speech by all groups is concerning to say the least. The ACLU’s philosophy or principles that they adhere to pertain to the defense of the constitution and as such, will not conform to societal progressiveness or advances made in recent years which may sometimes, disagree with constitutional formalities.
I would like to cite a statement in the ACLU’s analysis of Hate Speech pertaining to legal precedents the ACLU used in their argument that the U.S. Supreme Court did not find “the fighting words doctrine applicable in any of the hate speech cases that have come before the court.”(ACLU, 2017) The statement is as follows, “the folks who advocate campus speech codes try to stretch the doctrine’s application to fit words or symbols that cause discomfort, offense or emotional pain.”(ACLU, 2017) I think the ACLU has this pre conceived notion that only speech that targets a group is only considered hate speech; however, words that cause discomfort, offense or emotional pain are the epitome of hate speech. Moreover, speech codes are put in place on college campuses for the purpose of protecting the people on the other end of the coin; however, the ACLU’s argument criticizing such measures is absolut...