Letter to the Editor

After my group, Students for Free Thought, screened the documentary “Can We Take a Joke?” many seemed to get the wrong impression that members of the group only advocated for free speech because they wanted to say racial slurs and tell offensive jokes. This, however, is not the case. We advocate for free speech because a culture of free speech is essential to the free exchange of ideas in an academic setting. We want a culture of free speech because we want the freedom to explore and talk about ideas without being personally attacked or censored for disagreeing with what may be a majority viewpoint on campus. A culture of free speech is an idea that goes beyond the First Amendment itself. While the First Amendment protects the right of people to speak without government interference, a culture of free speech ensures that the speaker’s act of voicing of an opinion is respected, even if the opinion itself is disagreeable. Thus a culture of free speech ensures that ideas are listened to openly and not shouted down. A culture of free speech also ensures that bad ideas are combatted with good ideas, not with ad hominem attacks on the speaker. In a culture of free speech, someone’s offense at an idea should never stop anyone from thinking, speaking, listening, exploring, and learning. A culture of free speech is what we want on campus, because we want to be able to freely think, speak, listen, explore, and learn.


-Chris Wand