Protecting Freedom Of Expression At Harvard Essay

Freedom of Speech Essay

1869 Words8 Pages

Freedom of speech, ones right to say what they please without fear of being punished, is among one of the most treasured freedoms throughout America. Protected by the relevant constitutional provision, this freedom was also deemed most important by the founders. The first inhabitants of North American colonies, whom were controlled by the British, did not have the legal right to speak out against government policies or issues such as unfair laws and taxes, English speech regulations were quite restrictive. After several prosecutions of speaking out against the government, the trial of John Peter Zenger, who was convicted of opposing the government, marked the beginning of a greater tolerance of free speech. In response to the…show more content…

First, “Education requires that ideas be freely available for discussion and evaluation. Therefore, free speech is the linchpin of any society” (Luft ). Here Luft claims that the free flow of knowledge allows for the development of a civil society since everyone can voice their opinion, there are no ideas being rejected some of which could help contribute to the goodness of a society. Of course not all ideas are heard, but those that are draw attention to certain aspects of society, which can end up benefiting the common good. As stated before, researchers think that protecting freedom of speech will contribute positively to a society because many people feel strongly that “Without freedom of speech, newspapers would not be able to inform the public freely about elected officials, proposed bills, and national and foreign policy”(American Government ). This is what the knowledge of a society is all about-keeping the public well informed. Individuals gain knowledge through the destruction of bad ideas or even good ideas. One can build one another person’s idea, without having to worry if it’s not deemed positive by the leader. Then through the process of everyone voicing their opinions, knowledge is eventually gained which plays a big role in

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To the Editors of The Crimson:

The Civil Liberties Union of Harvard would like to commend the recent decision of President Derek C. Bok to endorse and confirm the right of Harvard students to freedom of speech. The Crimson reported on March 13 that in a letter on "Freedom of Speech in the Harvard Community," President Bok states that, although he does not condone their actions, the University will take no action to remove the Confederate flags hung in windows by Bridget L. Kerrigan '91 and Timothy P. McCormack '91-'92.

"Although it is not clear to what extent the First Amendment is enforceable against private institutions, I have great difficulty understanding why a university such as Harvard should have less free speech than the surrounding society--or than a public university, for that matter. By the nature of their mission, all universities should be at least as concerned with protecting freedom of expression as the rest of society. Like the rest of society, we should also worry about who will draw the lines and how wisely they will be drawn if we begin to restrict the bounds of permissable speech," Bok stated.

CLUH points out that President Bok has established a very important precedent for the future of free speech at Harvard. Previously, the right of Harvard students to free expression has been nebulous, at best. The Free Speech Guidelines adopted by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on February 13 and May 15 of 1990 state only that "it is expected that when there is a need to weigh the right of freedom of expression against other rights, the balance will be struck after a careful review of all relevant facts and will be consistent with established First Amendment standards."

The Civil Liberties Union of Harvard has always been pleased by the fact that Harvard has never had a policy permitting disciplinary action against students who use controversial forms of speech. CLUH is further pleased by the decision of the Harvard administration to embrace students' right to free expression. We hope that in the future, no Harvard student will need to be apprehensive about expressing their beliefs and ideas, no matter how controversial they may be. Jol A. Silversmith '94   Assistant Director, CLUH

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