Gunther Essay, Research Paper
Freedom of speech is the right to speak and write without fear of government limitations. In the United States freedom of speech and press are commonly called freedom of expression. Both freedoms are protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. However, freedom of expression in colleges all around the United States is limited very often. Speech codes are formed in some universities in order to prevent racial and other discriminations. I think that limitation of freedom of speech should not be used to solve the problems of any kind of discrimination. There should be no speech codes on campuses or anywhere in the United States because these codes break the rules of our country s Constitution. Professor Gerald Gunther in his article Is There Ever a Good Reason to Restrict Free Speech on a College Campus?-No, published in This World, on September 9, 1990, wrote that speech at university campuses should stay free. He argued that universities should experience more freedom of expression than other institutions. He also pointed out that a university is a unique place that, like a mirror, reflects interests of the whole nation. I fully agree with the professor. I think that universities involve people of different races, religions and nationalities. These people come to universities to become educated and exercise their freedom of speech. They have this right and nobody should take it away. Universities were meant to make people educated. It is hard to do that when something is prohibited from being said or read. Sometimes we should look back at the history of other countries that tried to make that work. The whole communistic block was influenced by speech codes for a long period of time. Actually, the governments of the Soviet Union, Western Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, some other countries of the eastern Europe, also North Korea, China and Cuba were saying that there was freedom of speech, but in the real world, nobody could say or read anything that was critical of the communistic party.
In the former Soviet Union, in the period 1937-1945, millions of people were killed and sent to concentration camps, or gulags as they were called, just because they had been accused of saying something wrong. They were considered enemies of the nation for just saying something like, I like American movies. That was a really bad time for the Soviet people. They could not say anything because of being under the dictatorship of Stalin. The speech in the Soviet Union became really free only in the late 1980 s. We would be foolish not to learn from history. We should pay a closer attention to what was happening in other countries at the past. First Amendment has been the best protection of speech so far. We will break the law by placing limitations on speech. The issue of discrimination is a very important and difficult issue but it cannot be solved just by using speech codes. Speech codes can bring us to a very bad situation, like history shows us, therefor speech should be unrestricted on college campuses. Universities are not and probably will never be ready to adopt speech codes because of one simple reason. Students will never want to give up their right to speak, especially in a democratic country like the United States of America.