Freedom of Speech at College

2747 Words Sep 26th, 2011 11 Pages
Free Speech on College Campuses
Universities are considering adopting speech codes that would put a ban on offensive, demeaning, and provoking speech. The developments of these speech codes are not necessary. Sheltering students from speech that might offend them is patronizing to say the least. Do college officials really believe the students are too weak to live with the Bill of Rights? The fact of the matter is that speech codes on college campuses are threatening students’ freedom of speech and the free exchange of ideas and therefore have no place in higher education.
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The first amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an
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The Supreme Court has clearly ruled in favor of free speech (Bok 124). In 1969, a landmark decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District ruled that students are permitted to have a right to express themselves. The 7-2 ruling encouraged the right of three students to wear black armbands to show their support for a Christmastime cease-fire in the Vietnam War. Justice Abe Fortas, relating the majority opinion, said, “School officials do not possess absolute authority over their students. . . . In the absence of a specific showing of constitutionally valid reasons to regulate their speech, students are entitled to freedom of expression of their views” (qtd. In Jost, “Student Rights” 504). In another major ruling, in 1989, the Supreme Court defended the right to burn the American flag. The Court also added that this was an expression of disagreement with government policies and shall be protected by the amendment (ACLU.org).
Silverglate explains the case of Cohen v. California in 1971 as follows:
In that case, an antiwar protester wore a jacket in the Los Angeles County Courthouse that used a vulgar profanity to express his objection to the draft. The State of California prosecuted the protestor for “maliciously and willfully disturbing the peace or quiet of any neighborhood or person…by…offensive conduct.” The Court rejected California’s…

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