Is diversity worth the cost of speech?
In 2016, a national survey was conducted by Gallup, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Newseum Institute, with the main focus being college students.
Its intent was to ascertain the current feelings of college students regarding the state of their rights and freedoms, specifically those upheld by the First Amendment.
In 2017, Gallup and the Knight Foundation partnered once again alongside other interested organizations and conducted a similar survey in order to measure any interesting trends from one year to the next.
The trends they discovered, and the atmosphere among college students, were interesting, if a bit telling.
One of the key findings was that a majority of college students value the importance of free expression and inclusion within a democratic society, with a qualifier that support for free expression is stronger in the abstract rather than reality.
Meaning, as an example, that while a majority of college students believe in the importance of free expression, two thirds of students respond positively to campus policy that restricts hate speech.
So, what does this mean for freedom of speech and expression? When asked about whether the protection of speech or the furthering of a diverse society was more important, 53% of college students were more apt to champion diversity, with only 47% percent declaring speech more important.
As America deals with a rising movement of hate, it becomes more of a serious issue every day for individuals who have to wake up and face ridicule and other hate charged language.
For some, the limiting of such language through legally defining hate speech and outlawing discriminating speech is a step in the right direction for inclusion and diversity.
Yet, there is a lot to be concerned about the proverbial itchy trigger finger of such legal action. While founded in good intentions, the limiting of speech is done with hesitance for a reason.
While most would say hate speech is an overall negative aspect of America right now, not everyone has the same idea of what constitutes hate speech.
In a perfect world, the ability to differentiate between free speech and hate speech would be easy, but in our imperfect one, the legal definition of hate speech would be defined by a government body that could not hope to encompass the entirety of individual perspectives on hate speech that exist.
Either there would be groups of people who feel left out or the definition would be so broad that it would very likely encroach upon our freedom of speech.
There are ways to incorporate into our daily lives the diversity and inclusion that is steadily becoming more necessary. Ways that don’t resort to limiting the voice of the American citizen.
We don’t fault those who wish to champion diversity, but our freedom of speech is a staple of American society and is the very freedom that allows them the opportunity to champion these necessary movements that tiptoe on the edge of threatening its capacity to allow us said freedom.
For more information regarding the referenced survey, it can easily be found here.
This editorial reflects the general opinion of The Spectator staff.
I agree that it’s almost impossible to have both free speech, and a lack of hate speech. You can’t really remove either without someone being hurt or having their rights infringed on. It might be a bit better to have a slight mix of the two, where people can’t say extremely offensive things, but where people won’t get offended by implications of offense.