Summary of “Protecting Freedom of Expression on the Campus”

In “Protecting Freedom of Expression on the Campus”, the author, Derek Bok shows how expressing yourself falls under the First Amendment, whether it is on a private college campus or public college campus. He further explains that just because it is protected by law does not mean that it is “right, proper, or civil. Bok goes on to show how censoring freedom of speech would cause people to “test the limits” to gain more attention than is needed and if dealt with in the proper manner, behaviors such as displaying a Confederate flag or a swastika in rebuttal of the flag can be avoided.

Freedom of expression is a right and should not be used inappropriately. The First Amendment rights have caused much controversy because it allows people to say, act, or feel how they see fit; for example, hanging of a Confederate flag or displaying a swastika in public view. It is an insensitive act; although it is their right to do so. According to the Supreme Court’s ruling, the displaying of these symbols is protected under the First Amendment. Regretfully, people act and react because they are offended by things like this, but it is one of our many freedoms as Americans.

Although it cannot be prohibited it should be responded to in such a way they do not feel put down or that they are wrong in expressing themselves, but rather suggest to them that it is hurtful and offensive to others. We have the right to be offended as others have the right to display or express their own interests. Diverse communities in the United States set certain laws to protect their properties from being vandalized with graffiti and protect them from loud noise; rules of this kind should be evenly upheld in order to not discriminate for or against anybody’s opinions or ideas.

If the governing authorities see fit to change the laws to prohibit such expressions, they should be cautious, because censoring such a great freedom can potentially become “dangerous”. When one or more people feel that they are being pushed in the opposite direction than what they feel is right they tend to rebel in a sense. More often than not they will try to push the boundaries to prove that they are free to do as they see fit and the more attention that is given to their cause the more they will show that they will not be told no.

If an offensive act is being displayed it can be dealt with in a discrete manner to prohibit future conflict. For example, the offenders actions are ignored, they may eventually stop. Those in authority need to take charge and try an approach that may be more effective than prohibiting it. Persuading one to see the errors of their ways would be more productive rather than criticizing or condemning them. It will help them become more aware of others around them and potentially create a more balanced for those around them.

Therefore, members of faculty and officials should seek to educate the students and persuade them instead of using threatening tactics, as persuasion is more likely to produce beneficial results. People are more willing to change when they are approached respectfully with inquiry, instead of abruptly and demanding. As a result, we should be conscious to uphold the moral standards of schools and colleges; so we can positively coexist in these communities.

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