I wrote this more than six years ago. I can only say with the current “cancel culture” things have only gotten worse. The movement against freedom of speech and censorship has expanded from college campuses to social media and beyond.
I worry about my kids and the world we are leaving them. I especially worry about how their ideals are so different than mine, when I was their age.
For example, I wanted to have a successful career. I was interested in getting a job. Eventually get married, buy a home and raise a family. Not that I wanted that at age 19 or even 22, but it was in the back of my mind.
I was a journalism major. My internships were at local newspapers and I spent one quarter at the state capital as a legislative reporter. I valued the written word. As an avid reader and writer for most of my entire life, I value freedom of speech and believe we are one of the few fortunate country’s in the world to enjoy this right. We have friends who immigrated from Eastern Europe. They told us how books were illegal in their country. They would smuggle photographs of each page to read and share with friends.
I’m so surprised that our kids do not appreciate this right.
Did you hear that? Freedom of speech, which is our first amendment right, is not a favorable thing to a growing number of our college students. There was a recent Pew Research poll that tracked opinions about freedom of speech. Forty percent of students believe that our first amendment is outdated and that the government should have the right to censor our speech if it’s offensive to minorities.
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.”
Read more here about the document called the Bill of Rights.
I was a young child in the 60s when protestors were taking over college campuses, bombing buildings and burning flags. They were protesting the War. They believed in freedom of speech.
You don’t have to agree with the words being said. You don’t even have to like it. You can hate it and find it offensive. But, don’t censor or silence it. It seems that our college campuses have become microcosms of group think where no dissenting point of view is allowed. If someone speaks out with a contrary opinion, they are shouted down, silenced and excommunicated.
It’s very scary to me that the foundations of our country are not respected or valued by our youth. I’m hoping they outgrow this attitude as they enter the world, get jobs and raise their families.
There’s a book I read when my kids were in grade school called Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang. It’s a true story and eerily reminds me of what’s going on today with our college students.
“In 1966, Ji-li Jiang was twelve years old. An outstanding student and leader in her school, she had everything: brains, ability, the admiration of her peers – and a shining future in Chairman Mao’s New China. But all that changed with the advent of the Cultural Revolution, when intelligence became a crime and a wealthy family background invited persecution or worse.”
It’s a well written book and the story is one we should think about today.
Here’s a story from 12/9/2015 that brings up some of the issues on campuses I’ve been reading about: Importance of Free Speech on Campus .
Here’s an opinion piece from the LA Times that addresses the issue of freedom of speech with numbers.
Here’s a couple blog posts I’ve written on the subject: