Instructions for Your Blog

Task. Produce a blog in which you take a position that connects locally with a debate about free speech. Your blog should be appropriate for publication on a reputable news source’s blog such as The New York Times, or NPR Ed. Use ethos, logos, and/or pathos appeals in a way that you think will be effective with the local, targeted audience you’re addressing and that will persuade your readers to accept new information or insights, change their beliefs or attitudes about this issue, or prompt them to take some kind of action. To help you construct an effective ethos, you’ll need to find and use at least three relevant, credible outside sources. Conduct your own library research to do so. You’ll also want to format your text to look like your intended publication.We will be deciding on some of this as a class.

Audience and purpose.You will be writing this blog for your fellow students at UT. Remember, too, that there’s a difference between readers or viewers who happen upon your text and the particular audience for whom you target your message. You may get some visits from students at other universities, faculty, or the general public. As noted above, your purpose is to persuade your audience—to change their minds or attitudes, to take some action, or to accept new information or insights (RC 24).

Tips. Keep the following tips in mind as you compose your public argument.

  • Consult Rhetorical Choices chapters 7-11 on composing arguments and chapters 12 and 13 on writing for public audiences. Part of your grade will be based on your effective use of rhetorical strategies to accomplish your persuasive purpose.
  • Be sure to establish some common ground with your targeted readers. This is a more informal assignment than our previous papers, so you can use images, videos, hyperlinks, and humor as you see fit to accomplish your purpose.
  • Keep your rhetorical situation in mind. Who is your intended public audience? Why did you choose them? Is this audience capable of changing the situation that you’re concerned about? What does your audience value/consider important?
  • Keep your rhetorical purpose in mind. What do you want your readers to feel, know, believe, or do as a result of reading [or viewing] your public argument?
  • Keep your own ethos in mind. How credible/knowledgeable do you seem when talking about your sources?
    • Have you selected supporting passages and evidence from your sources that will be persuasive to your intended readers?
    • Have you integrated your sources effectively into your argument (including appropriate use of paraphrasing and quotation)?
    • Are you accurate in your use of MLA format for parenthetical citations and your Works Cited page?

A note about citing sources. You are expected to use parenthetical citations and provide a Works Cited page, even though doing so may not be common in the publication type you are using as a model. Include a copy of the outside sources you found through your own research and used in your paper, place these in a folder with your reflective essay.

Requirements. As you compose your public argument, be sure to meet the following requirements:

  • Rough Draft Due: 11/28/16
  • Final Draft Due: 12/8/16
  • Length: 800-1000 words
  • Formatting: Follow the convention of our blog for font type and size, column set-up, line spacing (basically, don’t change the default).
  • For the reflective essay: Identify your intended audience and rhetorical purpose (e.g., “My goal is to persuade [specific audience] to [choose one: feel/know/believe/or do] X.”) at the end of your argument or on a separate sheet.

Reflective Essay Guidelines. In a 2-page addressed memo to me, please respond to the following questions. (Will be graded with check/check plus, etc., like homework grading.)

  • Who is your target audience, and why did you choose them? What do members of this discourse community value?
  • What was your rhetorical purpose?
  • Describe and evaluate your rationale for how you used the rhetorical strategies you chose: how do you think your ethos, logos, and pathos appeals will affect your selected public audience and help you accomplish your persuasive purpose?
  • Through this project, what did you learn about writing [or composing]? How does this new knowledge about writing [or composing] connect to what you previously knew about writing [or composing]? How did this project add to your understanding of genre and audience?
  • What did you struggle with most in this project?
  • What do you want to remember to apply to future assignments and situations?

 

 

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The blurred line between Freedom of speech and Hate Speech

Should it be censored on college campuses?


front page blog pictureBy: Chassity Stancil

The incident:

My roommate had happened to be walking down the strip one day to Canes to get some food. As she had started to walk back down the strip towards campus she notice a group of Caucasian men in a car staring at her. Haleigh is her name, she just continued to walk back to her dorm, mind her business, and ignore them. The group of men decided to start their car and drive pass her and stall right next to her and point a water gun at her and say “Die nig Die, we hate all you niggers” then drove off laughing at her. So the real question I have for you is this act these men decided to do apart of their freedom of speech or is it considered hate speech?

Is hate speech, free speech?

In a situation like this many would say that was hate speech, but a handful of others would not. Why is that? What makes somethings hate speech and other just freedom of speech. According to the American Bar Association, “ Hate speech is speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits”(Rawles). In this prime example above they are offending someone because of their race or color. But, the other half would say no that is freedom of speech. He is expressing his beliefs about another color. You can argue that but, he went out of his way to make sure Haleigh knew his beliefs. In my personal opinion this was a form of hate speech, it turns out to be that when you deliberately go out your way to attack someone in a harsh way with actions or words that it becomes a problem. That group of men could have easily just minded their business or said their beliefs in a none disrespectful way if they really felt the need to say something to Haleigh.

Everyone has a right to express their feelings, through the first amendment. But, people have expressed also using the first amendment doesn’t justify you being hateful to a certain extent. Hate speech is not free speech, according to Bruce Hartford he states, “So yes, though I cherish the First Amendment, that kind of hate “speech” has to be fought and suppressed because it’s not just a form of speech it’s also a form of action clearly designed to intimidate and terrorize for the purpose of imposing by force a regime of oppression and injustice” (Hartford). You don’t need hate speech to express yourself, we wouldn’t need censorship for this exact reason. If you actually use free speech there would be no need to enforce a censorship policy.

Free Speech newspaper headline on a copy of the United States Constitution

What is free speech?

For freedom of speech though there is no definite definition for it there are also no guidelines to be followed. So where does the line between the freedom of speech and hate speech even lie in our society.

For example, someone saying I don’t have a problem with being friends or family with people outside my skin color, but I prefer to date within my skin tone. That statement right there isn’t hate speech but rather someone expressing their freedom of speech. There is a different tone and dialect that is used here instead of the previous situation that was shared earlier. In this situation the person is merely just telling you their preference in a respectful manner and isn’t intentionally trying to hurt you or incite rage.

In America, free speech seems to be speech that doesn’t put you in any legal trouble. People argue that some of the speech charges people get sent to court over, courts see as free speech and not as hate speech, and vice versa in other courts. So maybe the best definition for free speech is speech that doesn’t land you in a courtroom with charges against you.

The blurred line on campus, when does it become an issue?

There is a very thin line between free speech and hate speech, people just choose not to believe there is one. You can get your point or opinion across effectively, in the right way without being hateful towards a person or persons or group. So with that being said there should be a certain level of censorship on college campuses. Even though we are all grown ups and living on our own now, half of the people on campus still don’t act like they are.

censorship

On a college campus you need to allow for free speech but have no tolerance for hate speech. This is where the blurred line comes into play. People express that you can’t have “hate” speech without truly expressing their freedom of speech, which is not true at all. They choose that way of thinking. Eliott C. McLaughlin stated: ““A principal function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are…” (McLaughlin). On campus you need the right to have freedom of speech all over campus and especially in certain classrooms. Without it there wouldn’t be any source of diversity and sense of individuality. For instance if someone was to take a debate class or history class, those classes result in socensorship 2me strong opinions being expressed. Those types of classes are meant for voice trade offs and going back and forth.

 

 

But, with that you also need boundaries and rules to be set in place so people won’t wind up getting hurt in the long run by mistake or on purpose. We also need this censorship just to protect each individual from someone purposely going too far to slip their hate speech in. It allows people to still have their freedom of speech but without taking it for granted. Censorship allows you to have voice because without a censorship college campuses wouldn’t even allow you to voice your opinion without it.

Campuses allowing censorship allows free speech. With free speech we can argue, go back and forth, agree to disagree but also grow as we do so. Free speech with censorship allows us to hear both sides of the playing field without being disrespectful and still learning from each others freedom of speech. You are able to have an educated debate without crossing the fine line.You don’t have to worry about questioning yourself whether what you are saying is free speech or hate speech with the censorship in place. You are still you and are able to voice your opinion loud and clear with censorships and it protects you as an individual also.

censorsip at the end

Online Communication, How to Use Facebook

As science brings us new technology, we are able to increase the speed of global communications through the use of online media. Whether its your friends post on Facebook or a news report from the New York Times, internet communication is abundant. Society has taken note of these technological changes and has found a way to corrupt communication among the internet by the use of  “fake news”. Fake news is defined as promotional material disguised as news (Frank). With this being said, lately Facebook has been seen as a leading producer of fake news by the internet. Users have been creating accounts posing as political parties or made up news sources and posting absurdly wild news stories that have intriguing headlines made to instantly grasp the reader’s attention. A lot of times the post will have a link in it with a thumbnail picture of the subject leading the source to believe other related pictures will follow. Many people’s views on this are said to point the blame towards Facebook for not controlling what is posted on its website and I am here to argue on Facebook’s behalf.

My argument begins where Facebook begins and that is its mission statement. In an interview, Zuckerberg gives Facebook’s updated mission statement to Nick Statt from The Verge: To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. I will admit this is a very broad mission statement but it is symbolic of what Facebook’s purpose is built around. Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in 2004 as a social platform for Harvard students to interact and have total freedom of speech. As the cite grew to more universities, eventually it became public and politics came into play. People went from posting how their day went to expressing their latest opinions on whatever current political crisis is under debate. Keep in mind, this still falls under Facebook’s core value which is freedom of speech. Unfortunately every cause has an effect and that is shown through Facebook’s audience. While many people see Facebook as the one to blame for not filtering fake news, I see it as Facebook’s audience for being at fault. Lately, Facebook’s audience has begun to treat Facebook like it is a credible online news platform and because of this they have begun to spread fake news stories. Users either read opinionative posts and interpret them as factual news stories or simply read a real fake news article and spread that thinking it is true. It isn’t up to Facebook to censor its site but instead up to its audience to pick a new place to get its news from and use Facebook for entertainment purposes only. Sure one can complain that Facebook has gone down in value due to its constant pop up ads conveying fake news headlines but that is up to Facebook if it wants to filter those ads because while it is hypocritical to censor someone on a free speech site, it will increase the quality of the site tremendously. Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be a safe environment for one to voice his/her opinion which is why one must realize deciphering what is real news and what is fake news is nearly impossible on a site like Facebook therefore they should switch to a different news source. With less and less people getting their news from Facebook, less views will be given to these fake news posts and eventually they will be less abundant.

So how should Facebook be used? One should use Facebook to share information with other people regardless of topic whether it be about their life or maybe a rumor they heard, all shareable information is good information. As long as the reader is aware that the people posting these are posting them on a site made for entertainment purposes and that these posts are coming from opinionated people, nothing will be interpreted as a fact until further investigated. Save the headline clicking for actual news sources like The Washington Post or Wall Street Journal and use Facebook to post your opinion on these headlines. As long as the reader is aware that your post is opinionated, no harm should follow.

“Democrats and Republicans are both about 15% more likely to believe ideologically aligned headlines, and this ideologically aligned interference is substantially stronger for people with ideologically segregated social media networks”(Allcott and Gentzkow). Zuckerberg wants to eliminate this segregation which is why he emphasizes Facebook’s “openness” in allowing for what is posted. In order for these left wing right wing parties to absorb information from a less closed point of view, more people must want to post on Facebook. Users cannot be hesitant that their post may lead to a cause and effect scenario where a rumor blows up because someone read a post thinking it was factually true. It is up to the reader to decipher what they are reading and to be aware where they are reading it.

Works Cited

 

Allcott, Hunt, and Matthew Gentzkow. “Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election.” The Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 31, no. 2, 2017, pp. 211–235. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/44235006.

Frank, Russell. “Caveat Lector: Fake News as Folklore.” The Journal of American Folklore, vol. 128, no. 509, 2015, pp. 315–332. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/jamerfolk.128.509.0315.

Iversen, Stefan. “Narratives and Online Decorum: The Rhetoric of Mark Zuckerberg’s Personal Storytelling on Facebook.” Style, vol. 51, no. 3, 2017, pp. 374–390. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/style.51.3.0374.

Statt, Nick. “Mark Zuckerberg just unveiled Facebook’s new mission statement.” The Verge, 22 June 2017, www.theverge.com/2017/6/22/15855202/facebook-ceo-mark-zuckerberg-new-mission-statement-groups.

 

Hate Speech or Free Speech?

The Rock, a landmark of our beautiful campus at UT, serves as a place for anyone and everyone to share their own thoughts and ideas.  At least that is what I thought until one day on my way to class I went walking past The Rock and there were huge black squares clearly covering up a message that was deemed “inappropriate”.  This made me wonder, what is this unspoken social standard that these messages are being held to?  Imagine walking past The Rock and seeing an antigay message; or a message claiming religion is a waste of time.  Should people be allowed to be offended by these actions?  If people are offended, what action should they take?  Some will argue that the first amendment allows all speech to be acceptable, while others will argue that there is an undetermined social line which should not be crossed without punishment.  I believe that all speech should be considered free speech.  Just because some may be offended by another’s opinion does not mean that that opinion should not be shared.

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Classifying all speech as free speech and not punishing people who speak controversially will overall teach our generation more.  An article published in The Wall Street Journal titled, “Every Speech We Hate Should Be Free” by Mick Hume says, “We always need more speech rather than less to clarify arguments and to let people choose their own idea of the truth,” (Hume).  Without this clarification and variation in opinion throughout our society, every student will begin to agree.  When opposing opinions are removed, there will be a loss of information that would ordinarily expand the thoughts and ideas of others.  This type of conversation will also allow for students to expand their knowledge on the issue and may even force people to reevaluate their original opinion by viewing an issue from a new perspective.  Julie Lythcott-Haims agrees with this in her article, “Millennials Will Soon Define ‘America,’ and That’s a Problem for Ideas,” in The New York Times.  Lythcott-Haims shares the fact that while she was in college she subscribed to a local newspaper which published ideas that she completely disagreed with.  She mentions how she welcomed these ideas and she adds, “I learned plenty from those pages and usually strengthened my own rationale,” (Lythcott-Haims).  Without this debate being possible, all students will be exposed to only one opinion on issues and in the end, everybody will be expected to think the same way.

This is especially important for us millennials to remember in these four years while on a college campus.  Students nowadays want to be able to discuss controversial topics, yet are scared that they will be deemed socially unacceptable and out of line.  Kathleen McCartney explains this in her New York Times article “Today’s Students Have a New Way of Looking at Free Speech” when saying, “They found that, counter to the idea that today’s students fear opposing perspectives, most students want their college to be a place where uncomfortable ideas can be debated openly,” (McCartney).  If college campuses become a more socially acceptable place, then millennials will be more willing to speak up about strongly debated social subjects without the fear of being punished.  With this continued fear the idea of “echo chambers” become a problem.  Bryan Stascavage brings up this issue in his New York Times post, “The Problem With Echo Chambers on Campus and Beyond,” which states, “These vocal activists are culturally terraforming the environment around them, using public shaming and soft threats as their means to keep voices they disagree with in check,” (Stascavage).  Therefore, fear will cause only one opinion to be considered socially acceptable, which will cause everyone to think alike, causing echo chambers and narrow minded students in the end.

While many view “hate speech” as a bad thing, I believe that hate speech does not exist.  One may consider speech “hate speech” when someone is discussing a topic that disagrees with their views or is usually avoided.  However, there should be no topic that is considered unacceptable to talk about.  With the option to discuss anything and everything freely and respectfully, even when debating, then there would be no need for a social punishment.  Eugene Volokh published an article in The Washington Post called, “No, there’s no ‘hate speech’ exception to the First Amendment”, in it he discusses the fact that there is no legal definition of hate speech.  Volokh explains, “For this very reason, ‘hate speech’ also doesn’t have any fixed legal meaning under U.S. law. U.S. law has just never had occasion to define ‘hate speech’,” (Volokh).  Due to the lack of definition, contrary to popular belief, there is no written law against hate speech itself; keeping in mind, that hate speech and a threat are different things.

Overall, students should stop worrying that by sharing their opinions in a public way their speech will be considered “hate speech” as well as there should not be a fear on college campuses of a punishment for sharing one’s own controversial opinion.  Instead students need to trust their gut and recognize that by participating in healthy debate with people whose ideas oppose their own, people will become better informed and more knowledgeable about certain topics.  Diversity within ideas on a college campus must start to be looked at as a positive aspect.  With everyone on campus thinking the same thoughts, people will not only lose knowledge on subjects but they will also miss out on gaining vital conversation skills that can be used throughout life.  In the end, all opinions should be shared and accepted publicly and would have many beneficial impacts on a college campus and the overall student body.

Works Cited

Hume, Mick. “Even Speech We Hate Should Be Free.” The Wall Street Journal, 21 Aug. 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/even-speech-we-hate-should-be-free-1440165276.

McCartney, Kathleen. “Today’s Students Have a New Way of Looking at Free Speech.” The New York Times Room for Debate, 21 Dec. 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/11/02/when-a-generation-becomes-less-tolerant-of-free-speech/todays-students-have-a-new-way-of-looking-at-free-speech.

Lythcott-Haims, Julie. “Millennials Will Soon Define ‘America,’ and That’s a Problem for Ideas.”  The New York Times Room for Debate, 21 Dec. 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/11/02/when-a-generation-becomes-less-tolerant-of-free-speech/millennials-will-soon-define-america-and-thats-a-problem-for-ideas.

Stascavage, Bryan. “The Problem with Echo Chambers on Campus and Beyond.” The New York Times, Room for Debate, 20 Mar. 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/11/02/when-a-generation-becomes-less-tolerant-of-free-speech/the-problem-with-echo-chambers-on-campus-and-beyond.

Volokh, Eugene. “No, there’s no “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment.”  The Washington Post, 7 May 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/05/07/no-theres-no-hate-speech-exception-to-the-first-amendment/?utm_term=.c3862967d964.

 

Freedoms Nationwide Are On Your Side

There are many different types of freedoms available to college students in the United States. Choosing to practice these freedoms or not practice them is also your freedom. Among these many freedoms are freedom of religion, freedom for unreasonable search and seizures, freedom of the press, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is a major topic of discussion at the moment in the United States and college students are right in the middle of it. You will hear one side of spectrum saying that college students can practice freedom of speech and the other side of the spectrum saying that college students can not practice freedom of speech. Perhaps the reason there is any doubt that college students practice freedom of speech is that the administration, government, and authority figures put restrictions on freedom of speech.

There are people trying to limit free speech everywhere. Friedersdorf puts it like this, “To sum it up free speech on campus is threatened from a dozen different directions” (Friedersdorf). One of the groups that tries to limit freedom of speech is administration in schools. They could be limiting free speech to benefit their students, they could be doing it for personal gain, or they could be doing it just to do it no one really knows the exact reason and the reasons for limiting fre6358625270972399071455539332_fosedom of speech could be completely different for each administration. Author Judy Blume, whose books are published and read around the world, says, “I’ve always said censorship is caused by fear” (Baker). Maybe administrations are afraid that if students start practicing freedom of speech then the administration would have little to no power over the students if they worked together for one common goal. This is not just something going on in the United States. Rather, it is going on all over the world. In the United Kingdom “several UK institutions have recently issued “tone of voice” guidelines governing publications” (Docherty). This is saying that guidelines have been put in to place to tell college students that they have to meet certain criteria to openly express what they want to say. This opens the door to the question: Is it really possible to have freedom of speech  if there are guidelines to follow and people to answer to?

The government is also a big limiter of freedom of speech. This however is not a new thing. People have been having sit ins, protests, and rallies to fight against the government for years. Some people, however, do not realize that these are still going on today.  This is because the limiting hand of the government much less noticeable and outright. In an article written by Thomas Docherty he said, “It was suggested that “Prevent coordinators” could “give universities access to the information they need to make informed decthe-spongebob-squarepants-movie-spongebob-squarepants-17196442-1360-768isions” about who they allowed to speak on campuses” (Docherty). This means the Prevent coordinators, people set in place by the government, could come through and tell people exactly what they are allowed to say and not say on college campuses. They limited not only what people could say, but also what people were allowed to hear. Hearing is information and information is power. Think about it this way: have you ever seen the Spongebob Squarepants Movie where Plankton enslaves all of Bikini Bottom by putting bucket hats over their heads so that they are unable to do and think whatever they want? Well that is what college campuses would look like if freedom of speech was taken away from college students. Governments are continuing to limit freedom of speech and Doherty said it best, “Governments world wide increasingly assert the legal power to curtail the free speech and freedom of assembly that is axiomatic to the existence of academic freedom” (Docherty).

Most people in a positions of authority try to limit freedom of speech in some way. This could be bosses, teachers, and even parents. In an article published about Baker Judy Blume says, “In 2009, her publisher even had to send her a body guard, after she was deluged with hate-mail and threats for speaking out in support of Planned Parenthood” (Baker). These people who put themselves in a position above Judy Blume tried to put restrictions on what she should and should not say by threatening her and trying to scare her into saying what they wanted to hear. In an article published by the New York Times, one of the very well known news sources in the world, It is said, “Others assert that free speech is not truly available to all, especially members of marginalized groups” (McCarthy). This was written by McCarthy the president of Smith College. This means that there are college students who have even less freedom of speech than other college students because of their race, ethnicity, or background.

There are some people who actually do care about college students’ right to freedom of speech and speak out against the limiting of it. Vicky Baker said, “As a board member of the National Coalition Against Censorship in the United States, she has long spoken with passion about her views on the freedom to read, and against books being censored” (Baker). There is a whole organization on the side of college students fighting for freedom of speech and non-censorship. In a New York Times article Lythcott-Haims actually blamed students for the restrictions on their own freedom of speech,saying, “It is not students who need to be kept safe from idea, it’s the very ideal of ideas that need to be kept safe from fragile young adults with fingers in their ear” (Lythcott-Haims). Lythcott-Haims, the former dean of freshmen at Stanford University, is saying that maybe it is college students themselves limiting their own freedom of speech. So maybe we just need to get out of our own way to be able to freely speak out against any injustice that may come our way.

The limitations are mounted against us as college students so we need to work together to stop the limitations coming from administration, government, and every authority figure around us. One twig is easy to break but a bundle of twigs is nearly impossible to break.free-speech

Baker, Vicky. “Battle of the Bans: US author Judy Blume interviewed about trigger warnings, book banning and children’s literature today.” Sage Journals Index of Censorship, September 2015, http://ioc.sagepub.com/content/44/3/64.extract. 

Docherty, Thomas. “Open-door policy? Trigger warnings, no platforming, offense and extremism: a look at threats to free debate in UK universities.” Sage Journals Index of Censorship, June 2015, http://ioc.sagepub.com/content/44/3/64.extract. 

Friedersdorf, Conor. “The Glaring Evidence that Free Speech is Threatened On Campus.” The Atlantic’s Policy and Politics Daily, 4 March 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/ archive/2016/03/ the-glaring-evidence-that-free-speech-is-threatened-on-campus/471825/. 

Lythcott-Haims, Julie. “Millennials Will Soon Define ‘America,’ and That’s a Problem
for Ideas.” The New York Times Room For Debate, 21 Dec. 2015, http:// www.nytimes.com/ roomfordebate/2015/11/02/when-a-generation-becomes-less-tolerant- of-free-speech/millennials- will-soon-define-america-and-thats-a-problem-for-ideas.

McCartney, Kathleen. “Today’s Students Have a New Way of Looking at Free Speech.” The New York Times Room For Debate, 21 Dec. 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/ 2015/11/02/ when-a-generation-becomes-less-tolerant-of-free-speech/todays-students- have-a-new-way-of- looking-at-free-speech. 

College Campuses: Protests or Angry Mobs?

freespeech-samgraham-flickr-370x242Everyone knows that under the first amendment every U.S. citizen has the right to free speech this includes peaceful protests, and protests on college campuses are no rare sight. They have been a part of the college experience for students for decades however in recent years they have changed in tone and topic. Protests of the past had clear goals based around policies, however today’s protests are always ongoing with no real solution. Protests today lack a real goal and instead continuously find things to change that help no one, can be threatening to bystanders, and threatening to free speech.

Although no one needs a goal or reason to protest; without these protests loose support and devolve into mobs of people who are angry but propose no solution to the proposed problem. This has turned into the new trend on college campuses where protests have gotten a broader topic than previous years (Feirstein). Protests now focus on racism and sexism. However this is not in a policy sense but in that of historical figures, dates, and holidays. Protests like these solve no real problems but instead rename these “issues” and then turn a blind eye to the real problems. Jack Dickey wrote an article for Time giving such an example where students protested to rename a dorm for diversity, “At California-Berkeley, students demanded that Barrows Hall, named for a former university president, be renamed for Assata Shakur, a former Black Panther and member of the Black Liberation Army” (Dickey). Protests like this are now a common sight on colleges, yet they solve nothing. Renaming that hall did not increase diversity; the only outcome was a new name.151110_ithacacollege_quinn-1250x650

Not only do these most protests today not solve any real issue but they can be threatening to bystanders. Because on the lack of a policy based goal these protests have turned into more of a witch hunt than actual solution finding. Unlike protests based around policy, protests about broader subjects such as racism, sexism, or diversity have no real room for debate. Once someone disagrees they are now seen a bigot unlike policy protests in which when someone disagrees they debate the policy. This can create a mob mentality that is threatening for anyone who is not a protestor. As seen throughout the presidential campaign, at trump rallies protestors waited outside the events and all too often harassed or assaulted trump supporters simply for their political views. Adam Tamburin from The Tennessean wrote on protestors after the trump win giving evidence that debate in these are not welcome anymore and simply disagreeing can get you labeled, “On Facebook, some of her friends have derided all Trump supporters as racist, sexist or xenophobic” (Tamburin). This threatens people who disagree from protestors as being labeled a bigot and to not speak their opinions.

Even though these protests can threaten bystanders and they don’t really solve anything the biggest issue is that they limit free speech. Since these protests are not policy oriented they do not call for debate and disagreeing is not up for debate but simply that you are wrong and need to leave. In an article written by Max Kutner for NewsWeek he gives an example of how these protests are even limiting free speech of faculty, “where students last fall called for the resignation of Erika Christakis, an administrator, after she sent an email in which she seemed to defend culturally insensitive Halloween costumes as free speech” (Kutner). This shows that differing opinions are not welcome to these protests because there is no debate to be had. If you disagree, since there is no policy based goal to the protests, removing you is now the solution because you are seen as part of the problem. This discourages free speech on colleges and is the opposite of what protests are about.

wed_3The fact that these protests are given as a right for free speech yet take away free speech is hypocritical of the protests. Sam Sanders for NPR interviewed president Obama for his thoughts on these, “Well, feel free to disagree with somebody,” Obama said, “but don’t try to just shut them up” (Sanders). Even President Obama realizes that these protests are too often limiting free speech. He however still supports Protests as they are a form of free speech, which they are and always should be protected by the first amendment. The Key difference in a protest and a mob is that a protest sets out to change something such as ending the draft where a mob finds scapegoats and blames them for their anger. Protests on colleges today reflect more of an attitude of a mob than a protest and this is why they are so poisonous colleges.

Protests are always a form of free speech and should always be protected and never limited. Protests are generally good but in recent years the one defining factor of what makes a protest a protest has been lost, a goal. Without goals these protests are simply mobs that find any little thing to blame their anger on. No real solutions are being presented and limitations are being created more than freedoms. Protests are good in nature but only if they have a goal, without this nothing changes.

 

 

Works Cited

Dickey, Jack. “The Revolution On America’s Campuses.” Time, Time, 31 May 2016, time.com/4347099/college-campus-protests/.

Feirstein, Bruce. “How to Be a Student Protester: 1968 vs. 2016.” The Hive, Vanity Fair, 13 June 2016, http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/06/how-to-be-a-student-protester-1968-vs-2016.

Kutner, Max. “A Greater Percentage of College Freshmen Say They Plan on Protesting than Have in Decades.” Newsweek, Newsweek, 21 May 2016, http://www.newsweek.com/college-freshmen-survey-protests-426173.

Sanders, Sam. “Obama Warns Campus Protesters Against Urge To ‘Shut Up’ Opposition.” NPR, NPR, 21 Dec. 2015, http://www.npr.org/2015/12/21/460282127/obama-warns-campus-protesters-against-urge-to-shut-up-opposition.

Tamburin, Adam. “Trump’s Election Sparks Protests on College Campuses.” The Tennessean, The Tennessean , 12 Nov. 2016, http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/education/2016/11/11/trumps-election-sparks-protests-college-campuses/93607210/.

“Safe Space” in a Dangerous World

Throughout America’s history, ideas have been constantly discussed and debated in open areas. America is a democracy and this country prides itself in the right to free speech. This free speech encourages Americans to voice their opinions and have open discussions. However, school systems have recently been issuing trigger warnings and “safe spaces” to protect students from ideas they may not want to hear. This contradicts what America was founded on; freedom. Trigger warnings and safe spaces have created an environment that discourages discussion and restricts free speech on college campuses.  

These trigger warnings and safe spaces are distancing and hurting the community instead of strengthening it. All the top universities claim to be focused on creating a better and closer community. Although this may be their intent, they continue to distance the community by utilizing trigger warnings. Sarah Glacier explains how in 2015, a video leaked of some fraternity members at the University of Oklahoma singing in unison a song that contained a lot of racism, especially towards african americans. A law professor from Boston University claimed that although the act was not justifiable, it would stand in a first amendment case (par. 55-56). The intolerable act performed by the fraternity is something that students should be upset about and take action on. Shane Burley and Alexander Reid Ross along with many others all claim that the problem is “…the students will have to take responsibility for it, and the students are not willing to do that at this point” (par. 23). The millennials have been taught to hide away in the safe spaces instead of making a change that will strengthen the community. If these controversial subjects are openly discussed, a solution is more likely to be found. The students will be able to find a common ground on these subjects and eliminate the tension as it is discussed more and more. Overall, communities will be strengthened if the issue is talked about in  productive conversations rather than ignoring the problem completely.

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New ideas on sensitive topics are being oppressed in the education system, and this is due to trigger warnings and safe spaces. There have been many horrific events that have been taken place throughout human history. It is crucial that millennials are taught about this history and the mistakes within the education system. Chris Berg mentions that the education system is “not supposed to be a safe zone for comfort and emotional protection” (par. 19). For example, he mentions that if someone is “triggered by the racist language in Huckleberry Finn, they are not ready to study 19th century language” (par. 17). Safe spaces are prompting students to hide from education and anything relatively offensive. Learning from historical events and books is essential for the advancement of education and society. Not talking about these hostile subjects is creating distance within communities and encourages echo chambers. Bryan Stascavage, a  well respected Iraq war veteran, was a victim of “safe space” fear. He wrote an article on the Black Lives Matter protests that have been happening recently but “a small group targeted the student newspaper for publishing an unpopular opinion” (par. 3). Stascavage posted an unpopular opinion and the students removed it because a lot of millennials are overly sensitive about the subject. The use of safe spaces have encouraged the millennials to hide from these issues instead of addressing them and attempting to create a solution to problems. The education system is failing to teach millennials to voice their opinion and have debates about contradicting opinions. The future leaders of America will not have any experience in debating policies because they have been taught to hide in “safe spaces” that do not exist in the real world.

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There are many intolerable issues happening on college campuses but they are never discussed by the millennials that have been impacted because of safe spaces. Katie Byron argues in her article, “Millennials Are Creating a More Inclusive and Just World” that trigger warnings are a necessity for students who have been sexually assaulted and are traumatized by those events. She is correct to an extent and obviously these students should be protected. She releases an alarming stat that one-third of women on her campus have been sexually assaulted in some form (par. 1). The original intent for trigger warnings and safe spaces was to protect these students. However, Chris Burg continues to mention that the “safe spaces are morphing to unfinalized students hide from ideas” (par. 10). Sexual assault is a serious problem but encouraging students to not talk about the issue with safe spaces will never cause a solution to the problem. As challenging as it is, sexual assault needs to be talked about by the students in order for the problem to go away.

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In conclusion, trigger warnings have slowed the advancement of education and has created an environment that discourages millennials from discussion and has restricted free speech on college campuses. Trigger warnings and safe spaces have been distancing the community and have not encouraged students to disengage in controversial conversations. They have oppressed new ideas and have created an echo chamber for any ideas that the majority disagrees with. Also, it is better to address problems and figure out a solution instead of being scared of hurting someone’s feelings or being offended. All in all, society as a whole and especially the education system would be better without trigger warnings and safe spaces.

Berg, Chris. “When ‘safe Spaces’ Become an Attack on Ideas.” ABC News. N.p., 16 Nov. 2015. Web. 07 Dec. 2016, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-17/berg-when-‘safe-spaces’-become-an-attack-on-ideas/6946534

Burley, Shane, and Alexander Reid Ross. “How the Alt Right Is Trying to Create a ‘safe Space’ for Racism on College Campuses.” Waging Nonviolence. N.p., 6 Oct. 2016. Web. 07 Dec. 2016, http://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/alt-right-safe-space-racism-college-campuses/

Byron, Katie. “Millennials Are Creating a More Inclusive and Just World” New York Times, n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/11/02/when-a-generation-becomes-less-tolerant-of-free-speech/millennials-are-creating-a-more-inclusive-and-just-world

Glazer, Sarah. “Free Speech on Campus.” CQ Researcher 8 May 2015: 409-32. Web. 7 Dec. 2016, http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre2015050800

Stascavage, Bryan. “The Problem With Echo Chambers on Campus and Beyond.” The New York Times, Room for Debate. 20 Mar. 2016, http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/11/02/when-a-generation-becomes-less-tolerant-of-free-speech/the-problem-with-echo-chambers-on-campus-and-beyond

Are Echo Chambers Leading to the End of Open Debate?

  Since their creation Colleges and University have been locations of academic learning and intellectual discussion.  Its purpose was to promote thought on issues and be a location where rational debate could take place and free speech would could lead to a better, or at least more educated future.  The issue however is that this common feature that all universities have had for centuries is beginning to dissipate and may disappear all together.  This threat that looms of University and the entire world is the fear of opposing opinions and the sensitivity of new generations.  This issues has arose as the millennial generation began to reach into the social spotlight and started to change how social media and communication operated.  These millennials, who frequently are accused of being oversensitive and being coddled during their youth, have begun to warp society in a way that is very similar to their stereotypical upbringing, being shielded from opposing beliefs and reinforcing existing ones.  This transformation of society has led to the formation of constructs known as echo chambers, social barriers that reflect back a person own beliefs while preventing any outside opinions from reaching.  These echo chambers are not only a threat on campus but in the world at large because of their ability to pull members of the populous into groups of similar beliefs, which can be more comfortable for the person, but it also reinforces the fear associated with outsiders, and can eventually slow or even halt communication between groups.  Eventually this fear can lead to hate that will only cause a more xenophobic college for everyone.

To address the problem the cause must be understood, and the main cause of this issue are echo chambers.  Echo chambers are inherently dangerous to society because of their ability to bud off groups of people that create their own socially stagnant section of the population that contributes nothing to the rest of society.  The reason that echo chambers exist in the first place falls back on the question of what people find are the advantages of echo chambers and why, either knowingly or unknowingly they join them.  This question had led to the majority to point fingers at the millennials who they see as the people to blame.  The general stereotype of millennials, which for the most part is true, is that they were raised oversensitive and now fear anything they are comfortable.  The act of hiding controversial issues and giving out participation trophy to millennials in their youth give examples of why people believe they were coddled in their childhood and why echo chambers would appear to be the perfect solution to this generation as it was thrust out into a threatening world.  The explanation that echo chambers were formed for the reason of comforting oversensitive millennials is very probable and angers many.  Other groups point that the issue is not on the millennials themselves, but the time they live in.  Vincent F Hendricks, a professor at the university of Copenhagen states,”The polarisation mechanism is as old as we are – but the speed with which this information may spread has taken on proportions never seen before – and the social media may just turn prime vehicles for polarisation in the information age”(Hendricks).   As Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean at Stanford university states,” I think it’s fine if the purpose is to steel a person for an upsetting conversation, but not when it’s used to insulate a person from having to contend with upsetting material at all”(Lythcott-Haims).  Overall the main force behind the creation of echo chamber was the oversensitivity of millennials and their search for comfort in a threatening world.

Because many people from other generations don’t not see the supposed usefulness of echo chambers to be valid, they only see the cons of the effects, which regardless far outweigh the pros.  One of the most prominent issues and one mentioned earlier is the divide echo chambers can create between groups of people.  The importance of these issues is that people in an echo chambers will progressively become more and more close-minded.  As members of this group become more engrossed in their own beliefs they will become far less doubtful of their own views and disregard others and being wrong without any true rational.  David Katz of the True Health Initiative has a similar opinion,”The rising din of repetition can make any nonsense sound like unassailable truth, since nothing else can be heard above its reverberating roar”(Katz).  This issue becomes far worse however when echo chambers go from ignoring outside opinion to attacking and  suppressing them.  As stated by  Eugene  Volokh,”The Supreme Court’s decisions “protect the freedom to express” even “the thought that we hate” — including “discriminatory” viewpoints expressed by student groups at public universities”(Volokh).  This becomes increasingly dangerous as groups began launching attack against media outlets in hopes to prevent any contrasting opinions from gaining spotlight.  An example of this is given by Bryan Stascavage “A salient example is the reaction at Wesleyan to my article on Black Lives Matter. Instead of engaging in discussion, a small group targeted the student newspaper for publishing an unpopular opinion”(Stascavage).  Echo chambers are dangerous when they close off their members to the outside world, but they become far more dangerous when they begin to suppress the ideas of others.

Overall echo chambers are dangerous to society and how people communicate, especially on college campuses.  They exists as roadblocks in the flow of communication and the propagation of debate,  making it harder for debates on other issues to navigate around them.  In the end the issues does fall back on millennials and their outlook on the world and comfortable and coddling.  I fear that that if this majority outlook does not change soon, it could lead the end of open debate on college campuses and they eventual stagnation of society.

Works Cited

Hendricks, Vincent. “Is any immune to the social media echo chamber?”. The Conversation Science+Technology, The Conversation, 13 Aug 2014                               http://theconversation.com/is-anyone-immune-to-the-social-media-echo-chamber-30426

Katz, David. “Eating in Echo Chambers”. The Huffington Post Wellness, The Huffington Post 9 Jul,2016                                                              http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-katz-md/eating-in-echo-chambers_b_7762826.html

Lythcott-Haims, Julie. “Millennials Will Soon Define ‘America,’ and That’s a Problem for Ideas”. New York Times Room for Debate, New York Times, 21 Dec, 2015 http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/11/02/when-a-generation-becomes-less-tolerant-of-free-speech/millennials-will-soon-define-america-and-thats-a-problem-for-ideas

Stascavage, Bryan.”The Problem With Echo Chambers on Campus and Beyond”. New York Times Room for Debate, New York Times, 20 Mar, 2016 http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/11/02/when-a-generation-becomes-less-tolerant-of-free-speech/the-problem-with-echo-chambers-on-campus-and-beyond

Volokh, Eugene. “The Importance of Protecting Even the Thoughts We Hate. The New York Times Room for Debate, The New York Times, 2 May, 2016 http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/11/02/when-a-generation-becomes-less-tolerant-of-free-speech/the-importance-of-protecting-even-the-thoughts-we-hate