Culture Shock: To “Free Speech” Proponents

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I am tired of seeing your posts about you feeling like your speech is somehow impeded by students wanting a safe environment for themselves. I’m trans and queer and I’m sick of having to worry about bigots. We’re all sick and tired of it. It’s how we have to live when we leave campus. Many of us have to deal with microaggressions or straight up bigotry at home, so campus is supposed to be a safe place for us. I know it was for me, that is until this whole debacle began. 
 
I don’t care if people see it as “coddling,” an unsafe environment negatively affects mental health and, in turn, the studies of marginalized individuals. Sure, to some people with “thick skin” it comes across as coddling, but not everyone has thick skin. Not everyone can deal with the same things others can. Comparing emotional processing like that is reductive and harmful. There’s nothing wrong with being sensitive, especially to hate speech. 
 
But this whole issue surrounding the USG Free Speech legislation has exposed various instances of bigotry among its supporters which reveals its true goal: freedom from consequences. The legislation contains no clause that protects marginalized individuals from hate speech. Everyone on campus already has free speech, the people who authored this legislation are just upset they have to face consequences for being bigots. 

2 COMMENTS

  1. I feel like the people behind the free speech movement see this as a fun challenge of philosophical debate of what we can or cannot technically do. I think the solution is pretty clear, stop the argumentative addiction and actually listen when people of marginalized identities speak, and give a damn about their experiences and not your own “right” to threaten those sacred experiences. It’s easy for a white cis guy to claim free speech, because there is no hate speech for his demographic that’s tied to actual oppression. I’m trans and queer, and when you claim everyone should have the right to say whatever they want to whomever, you’re ignoring the deep rooted histories and present day climate of violence against black, indigenous, trans, immigrant, queer etc people. By advocating for free speech, you’re fostering the right to violence against the aforementioned groups. I wonder if IJ cares that trans people have significantly higher rates of suicide, because if he did he’d agree to put barriers in place to protect the mental health of people, the most valuable thing on this planet. And if your mental health is based on your ability to enact hate speech against people on a campus we all pay absurd amounts to attend, then I’d suggest you seek help from a specialist. There are social consequences to bigotry, just as there are internal consequences for the people to which hate speech is enacted.

  2. Thank you for sharing and writing about this. I went to high school in Canada (over two decades ago) where we learned, that with freedom of speech comes responsibility. In Canada, Hate Speech is a crime (Wikipedia: Hate Speech in Canada) .

    Another lesson we learned: what kind of a message does it look like when police are protecting KKK marches (now otherwise known as “Proud Boys”) – you’ve got it… it looks like the government is protecting them. Two decades later, the strike contrast between June 6th Insurrection vs. the heavy, militarized police presence during the BLM protests should have come as no surprise and yet it still shocks me that we live in this reality. Nothing has changed in the US or even CT, it’s the same narrative with different names.

    The last comment has it right, anyone arguing for “Free Speech” who eschews discriminatory views that dehumanize and marginalize entire groups of people are participating in a philosophical black hole, and language war.

    This might be completely unrelated but… I’m confused as to why Uconn has a Human Rights Institute, but won’t condone Israel or even China… or even disparities in local public education… am I missing something?

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