Modern colleges have become more focused upon making sure students feel comfortable by limiting speech. Among other methods, these colleges have instituted safe spaces. Safe spaces are designed so that people may hide from opposing political viewpoints and flee from any form verbal disagreement. While these safe spaces might appear to be a good idea on the surface, they actually cause more harm than good.
In the United States of America, freedom of speech is protected by the first amendment of the Constitution. The text reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Free speech gives the potential for people to work together to solve problems. This liberty allows for one mind to create and share ideas with others, editing and improving any given point to perfection. The only way for a large scale project to work well is communication. Uninhibited conversation permits these projects and impressive accomplishments to occur.
The founding fathers and the framers of the Constitution believed that the sharing of ideas was extremely important to the survival of their new nation. George Washington wrote, “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent will we be lead, like sheep to the slaughter.”
Freedom of speech does have consequences, however. Just because speaking crudely about controversial topics is legal does not mean that others will be pleased about the subject. However, the issues which are difficult to speak about oftentimes are very influential on the daily lives of citizens. Speech is a tool that humanity has at its disposal, and it can be used for good or ill like any other device.
Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence stated, “I never considered a difference in opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” The three topics that Thomas Jefferson listed are rarely discussed today, and are only briefly touched with great care for fear of giving offense.
It is proven not only by opinion of famous people, but by empirical evidence and historical events that the freedom of speech improves human quality of life. The Catholic Church misguidedly sought to prevent Galileo Galilei from spreading the knowledge he gained in his studying of astronomy. Navigation, geology, astronomy, and other fields of science would be unrecognizable if Galileo failed. Even censorship with positive intentions can have negative results.
There are close to 196 countries in the world. According to the Freedom House organization, only 40% of those countries are rated as free.
North and South Korea are other examples of how life differs between free nations and dictatorships. North Korea has extreme censorship, many political prisoners, threatens other countries, and is an economic disaster. South Korea, on the other hand, is a free nation with a GDP almost 45 times larger than its neighbor to the north. A country only slightly larger than Indiana is ranked 11th in the world for GDP because it embraced freedom rather than tyranny.
The United States of America has the highest GDP in the world. It also has the oldest Constitution. The freedoms that have been placed into this nation have been here for what is nearing 250 years. The conditions that created the most wealthy country in the world by the GDP standard would not have been possible without the vision of the founding fathers.
Without free speech, there can be no development of a better government or legal policies. Without liberty, there is no commerce. Without the sharing of ideas, there is little to no improvement.
Risking temporary offense is not worth permanently handing over one’s freedom. A dialogue amongst disagreeing people can lead to strengthening beliefs, creating new ideas, and improving society. Before censoring free thought and ideas, perhaps a factual analysis is required.
Author: James Kurlich
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