By Christina Galdi
KU has started a new chapter of Young Americans for Liberty. The main focus of this organization is to spark a movement that respects,“Our fundamental rights and reform free speech codes by challenging speech codes that they find unconstitutional.” The YAL spreads awareness about freedom of speech and the policies KU has in place.
Kaleigh Cunningham, chapter president, said, “There is a dangerous trend on college campuses right now that speech should be censored if someone doesn’t agree or it hurts someone’s feelings.”
Cunningham also said, “Our YAL chapter believes the free flow of ideas is vital to a healthy academic environment, and we’re here to combat these authoritarian voices.”
The idea of “free speech” and what role it plays in a college setting is an issue that has been discussed frequently in the last few years. Liberal arts colleges such as KU are not only crucial to educating our youth, but also play a role in expanding their students’ minds and opening them up to new ideas.
YAL’s message of allowing free flowing ideas is extremely positive. Students should feel comfortable in expressing themselves and allowing others to do the same. College is a time for both academic and self growth.
It’s rare to end college as the same person you were when you started. However, YAL needs to understand that while people may have fundamental rights to share their opinions and beliefs, others have a right to challenge and question those beliefs.
Censorship is not the same as challenging someone’s beliefs; while disagreements are inevitable, they are not a form of censorship. Everyone has a basic right to expressing their opinions, but then they must be aware of the fact that those opinions are open for scrutiny.
KU junior Sam Jimenez believes that it is vital to call out opinions and beliefs that are harmful to others. “If you have a close-minded view or belief and it’s misogynistic, xenophobic, racist, etc, then you definitely shouldn’t be spreading those sort of messages around. Ideas like that shouldn’t be tolerated,” she said.
We are a country that claims to hold all individuals as equals. Therefore, when we hear such hateful and derogatory ideologies being spewed about, it is our job to correct those who spread the hate. It has nothing to do with feelings being hurt, but it has everything to do with demanding the equality our country boasts
YAL’s mission is certainly admirable, encouraging students to feel comfortable in voicing their opinions is an amazing message, but we need to be clear about what will be tolerated in 2016.
We must remember that freedom of speech doesn’t protect an individual from slanderous opinions and hate speech. Freedom of speech is not something any American should take for granted. However, we need to hold some accountability for what we say.
If someone is calling out an opinion, maybe it’s for more than just “hurt feelings.” If someone is scared to voice their opinion, they need to ask themselves “why?” It’s time to look at true intentions when considering our right to freedom of speech. We must also learn to understand that freedom of speech applies to all citizens, whether they agree with you or not.
Most importantly, we must reject the idea that intolerant views will go without criticism. Only then will we know true freedom.