By Andrew Friedrick
Free speech is an American right protected by the First Amendment. The ability to openly express an opinion or ideology and to have a “free-thinking” mind is one of the most beautiful freedoms protected by our country. But what happens when the definition of free speech becomes ambiguous? What happens when universities take free speech to mean whatever they want?
There has been a shift in society where beliefs that were once considered acceptable are now deemed nonprogressive. What is deemed “hate speech” and what is considered “free speech” has been completely distorted in order to promote a liberal ideology, while silencing conservative beliefs. Many professors and students consider this to be completely acceptable, as the belief is held that in order for society to advance, certain traditional beliefs and policies must be revised or eradicated. Communism subtly creeps into a society when other beliefs that deviate from “mainstream” thinking become restricted or shunned. For instance, China does not tolerate ideology that differs from that of the communist regime, and it all started from free speech disappearing. America, as a nation, could very well be headed in that direction if free speech disappears.
Dmitri Solzhenitsyn, a writer for the National Review, explains how advocating or even mentioning beliefs that deviate from the “activist manifesto” are immediately attacked. 1 “College campuses are in the middle of a cultural cascade. Educators can face massive backlash for even slightly deviating from the activist manifesto, such as by suggesting that the police should not be defunded or by refusing to give special treatment to minorities enrolled in their courses. Students don’t fare much better: A UNC survey finds that 68 percent of college conservatives report needing to self-censor to avoid backlash. 2 And administrators, far from drawing the line at the most egregious instances of speech suppression, pander to the loudest activists, thereby undermining a healthy culture of discourse and inquiry.”
Suppose 68 percent of conservatives surveyed are, in fact, fearful of expressing their opinion on campus. In that case, it is reasonable to conclude that universities are becoming increasingly radical in leftist ideology and are not as “tolerant” as they claim to be. As certain beliefs are silenced that are not considered progressive or mainstream; a society can quickly progress towards communism. When free speech is restricted, public debate and open discussion disappear, and America’s young generation will continue to question nothing.
Andrew Friedrick was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. He will be attending the University of North Florida in the fall. He loves all things related to sports, enjoys the outdoors, and is passionate about politics.