Essay On Freedom Of Speech

Four years ago, I left my home country, a former communist state in eastern Europe and travelled to “the land of the free” to attend a private university, whose founding motto is “The Wind of Freedom Blows”.I was leaving a country where my grandparents used to be afraid to read the Bible or tell political jokes (even in their own home), as such actions used to be punishable by imprisonment or, worse, being sent to a labour camp.

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Freedom of expression is especially vital in universities.

Restricting speech is an assault to freedom of thought, which is fundamental to the main purpose of an educational institution, that of developing students’ ability to think critically and independently.

For others—younger people and those unfamiliar with the issues at stake—such strategies fail to educate or demonstrate the rigour of thinking that leads to certain ideological conclusions.

Censorship is not only likely to be ineffective in confronting problems of inequality and prejudice, but it may be achieving the very opposite of what it intends.

To be prepared to oppose bigotry and ignorance one must understand the psychology, logic and needs of the individuals who hold the disagreeable views.

This is particularly important given the current political climate of unprecedented polarisation, where precisely those views deemed unacceptable are central to the discourse led by the political elite.To achieve social change, we must engage in a discussion, not exclude our opponents, especially if our rival has substantial political power to influence social affairs, or if—as in the case of contemporary American politics—the “offensive” ideas are held by a majority of the public.Finger-pointing, name-calling and vilifying controversial speakers and their supporters is futile.Yet, as history demonstrates, restriction of speech might be most deleterious to the very same people that such restrictions want to defend.Hindering informed discussion, which considers the views of all sides, shows the validity of some over others, is likely to be ineffective and even counterproductive in resisting prejudice and offensive ideologies.One needs to be exposed to various, and often divergent, perspectives and use fact-based evidence, informed judgment, and robust critical analysis in order to decide which of the many conflicting views are legitimate.Freedom of thought is therefore vital both to society, which needs this rigorous process to determine the most valuable ideas to regulate and direct it, and to the individual, for whom the liberty to learn from independent decision-making and social feedback is crucial to the notion of human flourishing and self-actualisation.s Open Future essay competition in the category of Open Ideas, responding to the question: “What should a commitment to free speech on campus entail?” The winner is Katherine Krem, 23 years old, from Bulgaria.The current phenomenon of college students demanding “no platform” policies and “safe spaces” is admirable in its goal of protecting marginalised groups.The passion that marks these efforts is of utmost importance in sparking necessary dialogue and highlighting the ills of society.


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