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Offensive Speech Should be Allowed

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There seems to be an internal desire for freedom within the soul of every man. Men realize that freedom is something basic, and to rob a man of his freedom is to take from him the essential basis of his manhood.

The words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., spoken forty-three years ago, capture the spirit of the American dream. Since its conception, the United States of America has been the universal symbol for freedom and hope. The five most fundamental freedoms cherished by every citizen are granted in the First Amendment to the Constitution. Among them, Americans treasure the right to freedom of speech above all others. Yet, as we stand here in the birth of a new millennium, this right has become endangered. College campuses across the nation are embroiled in a heated debate over what, exactly, constitutes free speech. At the heart of the debate is the issue of hate speech, or speech that "offends, threatens, or insults" a person because of some trait such as gender or race (McMasters). Incidents of hate speech include an international student shouting racial epithets from his dorm room window (Hinds 108), complaints of email harassment (Harmon 115), and fraternity rush T-shirts depicting racially insulting caricatures (Frammolino 112). What is the solution to this fundamental conflict? Many people strongly advocate implementing speech codes into campus legal systems in order to control such displays. However, this is an inadequate and superficial response to a much deeper issue. College campuses should not regulate hate speech because such regulations violate our constitutional rights, no practical definition of hate speech exists, and there is no way to enforce punishment. Abridging freedom of speech on college campuses banda...


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...t Austin. "Sexual Harassment of Students by Faculty and Staff." Writing the World. Ed. Charles R. Cooper and Susan Peck MacDonald. New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2000. 123-124.

U.S. Supreme Court. "Beauharnais v. Illinois." Writing the World. Ed. Charles R. Cooper and Susan Peck MacDonald. New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2000. 128-135.

U.S. Supreme Court. "Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire." Writing the World. Ed. Charles R. Cooper and Susan Peck MacDonald. New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2000. 126-128.

Virginia Commonwealth University. "Rights and Prohibited Conduct." Writing the World. Ed. Charles R. Cooper and Susan Peck MacDonald. New York: Bedford/ St. Martins, 2000. 121-123.

Walker, Samuel. "Hate Speech: The History of an American Controversy." Writing the World. Ed. Charles R. Cooper and Susan Peck MacDonald. New York: Bedford/ St. Martins, 2000. 135-143.


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