“Freedom” of Speech

“Freedom” of Speech

The recent events surrounding the controversial racist posters raise a multitude of questions and concerns. Some people, a majority even, may instantly join the side of the argument that does not condone these posters whatsoever without thinking twice. I personally agree that these posters are utterly wrong and the morality behind the messages doesn’t exist. But, we live in a nation and a community that promotes many freedoms that prove to be controversial every day: freedom to carry guns, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, etc. The basis behind these freedoms is legislative, and our democracy chose to create these freedoms to protect the opinions of anybody and everybody. But at what point do higher powers have to step in and say certain actions are simply too much. For the same reason you can’t scream “FIRE!” in a movie theater or “BOMB!” in an airport, and given it was known who put up the posters in the first place, should the culprits be in legal trouble? And, should actions like this that would be considered free speech be illegal even though they don’t put any person in immediate danger such as the “FIRE!” example?

You don’t have to agree with something for it to be legal, which is exactly why we have a government and a legal system in the first place. But, this is a case that fits so well into the grey area of free speech that it can’t help but be discussed. On the other side of the issue, one could consider the people who took down the posters infringing on free speech of those who put them up. Again, controversy is natural, and without disagreement, nothing would ever change. The morals challenged in this case are extremely severe and completely generalized to a racial group, but it serves as an example for other cases that may not be so extreme. So, my fellow HSSPers, where is the line drawn for free speech (in this case or in any), and how do you think the University of Michigan deals with the freedoms we have on campus?

32 thoughts on ““Freedom” of Speech

  1. I believe that the student should face consequences from the university, as discrimination violates the University of Michigan’s code of conduct, and it is quite obvious that this was meant to discriminate and promote hate and separation. However, should he be in legal trouble and face jail time or fines? I believe no. He did not target or harass a single person. He did go up to someone and physically or verbally abuse them. I believe any legal action would be absurd in this situation, but that is just my opinion.

  2. Howdy Fellow HSSPer!

    You bring up an interesting idea in this piece of whether or not these posters are legal. At the very least, these posters can be considered libel and, therefore, indeed illegal, especially the poster titled, “Why white women should not date black men”. Yes, people have the freedom of speech, except for when it falsely defames a person or a group of people’s character. Undeniably, this poster publishes false accusations and stereotypes about an entire group of people, thus defaming and demeaning their character. This poster was also published with malicious intent which is another aspect of libel.

    I also disagree that these posters did not put people in immediate danger and therefore must be illegal. The history of white supremacy, which is what these posters were advocating, has been extremely violent. Groups such as the KKK tarred, feathered, and hanged people for the color of their skin. White supremacist posters are pushing for these groups to continue these horrid exercises, thus inciting violence. These posters are even worse than yelling “bomb” or “fire” in a crowded space. Overall, I think the University of Michigan deals well with the freedoms we have as citizens of the United States and does not infringe on them.

  3. Hello,

    I appreciate you questioning fellow HSSP students about how they feel this situation relates with freedom of speech, for I think it is a crucial discussion to have. It can be difficult at times to discern between hate speech or speech that may be controversial, but allowed by law. I myself am having trouble deciding if any sort of disciplinary action should be taken against the people who hung up the posters. Yes, we live in a country where we have the privilege to voice our opinions. But, if the voice is used to breed hatred and alienation among others, it should not be tolerated. These posters targeted a group of students with cruel and absurd claims and portrayals. I think the way the University has handled the situation is beneficial for the growth of the student body. Instead of focusing on punishing the wrongdoers, they put their energy into providing support for the targeted students and being positive and welcoming to change. So, with that, it may be more than an issue over freedom of speech. What we can take away from events like this is how to turn a negative situation into an opportunity to educate and promote goodwill and acceptance.

  4. Being from a diverse suburb of Chicago, I was excited to come to Ann Arbor and live in a similar community where diversity is recognized and celebrated. When I heard about the posters, I was both disappointed and reminded. I was disappointed that there is still hate and discrimination on the campus I will call my home for the next four years and reminded that this is the reality of the world we live in today. No matter how diverse or supportive the community is, there will always be people who want to cause pain and tension.
    Though these posters affected our community as a whole and imposed pain and distraught amongst faculty and students, I agree that the question of whether or not it is legal is unclear. Is this act an example of a hate crime or an exercise of freedom of speech? This question reminds me of a section of Rising Strong by Brene Brown where she talks about whether or not people are doing the best they can. The person/people who put up these posters truly believe that their opinion is what is right; in their mind, the posters were good for the community. Though I definitely do not stand by their opinions, the federal law gives them the right to share them. As for the University of Michigan, I like the faculty’s initiative to start a petition against the posters. I think it was a great way to show students who felt hurt and attacked that they are not alone and people are upset about what happened. When it comes to condemning the person who put up the posters, I agree with Andrew that the action violates the code of conduct. However, it was not necessarily a student who put up the posters. Therefore, I believe the best thing the University of Michigan can do is support those in pain and create more discussion on campus to increase awareness.

  5. I believe that there will always be a gray area when discussing our freedom of speech. Everyone’s opinions on what is acceptable and not all differ, so there is no one way of determining where the line is drawn. However, I wholeheartedly believe that targeting individuals to instigate hate and violence is an abuse of this freedom and there should be consequences for actions such as these.

    Many of us came to this campus expecting to experience less racism than we have previously encountered, but the posters that were put up were evidence that this hatred and hostility is still present all throughout America, no matter how liberal or diverse a community is.

    I agree with Gaby that the University has handled the situation as well as they could have. By utilizing their resources to provide support for the student body, the focus shifts from the demoralizing posters to promoting community throughout this diverse campus.

  6. Free speech is the right to say what you believe regardless of others’ opinions. However, racism should never be acceptable under any circumstances. To create a poster that says “why white women should not date black men” is completely unacceptable. Free speech is not a freedom we are given to hurt other people. It is understandable for people to express their opinions. However, racism should not be a debatable topic. The U.S. lives on the principle that all people are equal regardless of color of skin or social class. I’m personally offended that anyone can protect or defend people who say racist things. These people who post these papers should be suspended or fined or arrested because racism is anti human behavior now. To fix this problem we need to have harsh consequences and people who understand the harsh consequences.

  7. I want to start off by saying that I believe that the posters put up by our classmates are wrong and hurtful. The First Amendment protects our rights to free speech so long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights and freedoms of others, and things such as libel, slander and yelling “fire” in a crowded theater like you said. It also means the government cannot censor anyone.

    Since the posters don’t infringe on anyone’s rights or freedoms, it’s not illegal for them to be put up by somebody. Also, you can take down the posters, since the First Amendment doesn’t protect you from backlash. In response, what I would do is respond with positive messages to counteract the negative ones. Don’t be surprised, however, if someone takes down your response in retaliation.

    The University could do better to protect freedom of speech. For example, they shouldn’t have allowed Black Lives Matter to shut down the Michigan Political Union’s debate on the movement. The MPU wasn’t debating the validity of the movement like Black Lives Matter members claimed, but rather if it harms race relations (which is up for debate). Black lives are not up for debate, this is true. One should not shut down a debate just because he or she disagrees with what’s being said. People’s right to have dialogue is more important than someone else’s feelings on whether or not it should be allowed. Going to a university has to involve being exposed to different opinions, not to be coddled and have those you disagree with silenced. This, in turn, defeats the whole purpose of higher learning.

  8. I want to start off by saying that I believe that the posters put up by our classmates are wrong and hurtful. The First Amendment protects our rights to free speech so long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights and freedoms of others, and things such as libel, slander and yelling “fire” in a crowded theater like you said. It also means the government cannot censor anyone.

    Since the posters don’t infringe on anyone’s rights or freedoms, it’s not illegal for them to be put up by somebody. Also, you can take down the posters, since the First Amendment doesn’t protect someone from backlash. In response, what I would do is respond with positive messages to counteract the negative ones. Don’t be surprised, however, if someone takes down your response in retaliation. The people who put them up should get in trouble because the material on the posters isn’t in line with what the university stands for, but not legal trouble.

    The University could do better to protect freedom of speech. For example, they shouldn’t have allowed Black Lives Matter to shut down the Michigan Political Union’s debate on the movement. The MPU wasn’t debating the validity of the movement like Black Lives Matter members claimed, but rather if it harms race relations (which is up for debate). Black lives are not up for debate, this is true. One should not shut down a debate just because he or she disagrees with what’s being said. People’s right to have dialogue is more important than someone else’s feelings on whether or not it should be allowed. Going to a university has to involve being exposed to different opinions, not to be coddled and have those you disagree with silenced. This, in turn, defeats the whole purpose of higher learning.

  9. In addition to all the powerful points made, I believe that every person is entitled to his or her freedom of speech. However, this power should and must not be exercised to deny another’s or group’s freedom of liberty, rights, or speech. I think the “line” should be drawn here; people can exercise their freedom of speech until and unless that power is used to deny the freedoms of another.

    Following this thought, I believe that the attacks of racism are unjustified and the instigators abused their power of expressing themselves freely. Yet it’s a great idea to offer support for targeted students and advocate for a unified resistance, instead of attempting to deal with the instigators. These points were all made by fellow HSSPers, and in addition, our University should be able to do more. Much like how inspiring Chimamanda was in her discussion of racial experiences in the United States and abroad, a similar inspiration can be generated on campus. Activities that can be promoted are talks from people who have stories to share, stories that penetrate racial barriers and allow an objective consideration of cultures.

  10. The United States of America is the greatest country in the world. The foundation of this great country is the U.S. Constitution, and arguably the most important part of this document is the Bill of Rights. The first 10 amendments to the Constitution lay out a few of the freedoms we as a Americans are guaranteed to enjoy. It just so happens that the first right our forefathers wanted to guarantee us is the right to free speech and press. While I personally find the hateful fliers and messages posted around campus to be vile and utterly disrespectful, I also, as a Constitution-loving American, recognize and respect the right of the group of people who posted them to do so.

    It is clear that a line needs to be drawn in our freedom of speech right, but the line is not drawn where one’s speech offends another. Instead the line must be drawn where one person’s speech immediately effects another person’s safety, such as the “FIRE!” in a movie theatre example Max gave. These fliers were malicious and down right racist. However, in the same way the U.S. government allows KKK and anti-America rallies to proceed, so must the University of Michigan allow students to express their beliefs, even if some are hateful, infuriating, or blatantly stupid, like the ones posted in the past couple weeks.

    It is unfortunate that some people on campus have resorted to hate speech as a method of expressing their opinions, but hate speech is still speech and the U.S. government will to continue to protect it. As for the University of Michigan, it is a public University and therefore should usually abide by the same principles that form our nation. That said, it is clear that U of M is committed to creating an inclusive environment for learning, and if they feel that another person’s speech is inhibiting this, they should take action in some way. Suppressing another group’s speech may not be the best way of doing this, but maybe voicing the University’s opinions louder than the group they are opposing would show that they do not tolerate nor agree with the hate.

  11. The question wether hate speech should be allowed or not is fairly complex. I say this because technically the people who preach hate are expressing their right to freedom of speech even though these hate groups may be offending a group of people. Personally, I believe that the University of Michigan should prohibit any kind of hate on its campus. People come to college to learn in a safe and accepting environment, not to feel shunned or divided. The task of prohibiting the hateful ideologies would not be easy, but I believe that if the right steps are taken, the university could ether stop or reduce the hateful posts we have seen in the past.

  12. Maximus brings up some excellent points in this post concerning the ambiguous question that is starting to challenge the frameworks of our Constitutional rights- where do we draw the line? This question is the concern of more than simply freedom of speech, but also in recent news with gun control issues, and religious conflicts with the law (e.g. Cassius Clay v. United States 1971). It is difficult to determine when to draw the line, and like Max said, we already have some guidelines concerning freedom of speech; particularly the immediate and imminent danger clause that doesn’t allow someone to yell “fire!” in a crowded area. However, the situation of the posters on campus does not pose an imminent and immediate threat to anybody. And although this is something that shouldn’t happen and is morally wrong, the posters represent an act of practice of our first and most important Constitutional right as Americans. The framers of the Constitution intentionally put the freedom of speech as the first law in the Bill of Rights because it is the most important and because it is what they felt would separate the United States from the rest of the world as a nation of freedom and liberty. And no matter your stance on racial issues and social issues in this country, by law it is not illegal to be “racist” it is simply immoral and can be demeaning. That being said, Max also brought up the point of should the people who took down the posters be in trouble for “infringing upon freedom of speech” and the answer to that is no because the posters were put up in a public setting so it is the right of the public to exercise their own freedom of speech in the same area as the people who put up the posters. The people who took them down were exercising free speech as well by taking them down, which is perfectly legal in the eyes of the law. If the people who put up such posters were to get caught, no immediate punishment should be placed upon them without this case going through a court of law to determine the legality of their actions. That is how the legal system works in America and it is necessary to maintain justice for all citizens and not infringe on their rights as citizens of this nation. In the case of the “fire” example, this was not something that happened and the person was immediately charged for using free speech. This was a result of a Supreme Court Case (Schenk v. United States) in which the case went through the legal system until the Supreme Court made a ruling in which it was illegal to use speech that poses an immediate and imminent danger. So I conclude with this, although it was a shameful act for these posters to be put up and although they may have had racist implications, it is not illegal to do this in the United States, therefore these people were practicing their rights as Americans, as were the people who took them down, and as were the media who brought this story to the surface.

  13. The line for free speech is drawn when that speech puts someone in danger or infringes upon someone else’s rights. This is why falsely yelling “fire” or “bomb” in a movie theater or airport is illegal and has consequences. Did the person who put up these posters put anyone directly in danger? I don’t think so. However, this person did damage the University of Michigan’s image. The hateful posters were only affiliated with the university, not the person who put them up. That person is able to remain anonymous and avoid any real consequences. I don’t think the person who posted the posters did anything illegal but they did not do something I would call “right.”

    The university’s response to this issue has been excellent. Not all students share the same views as these posters. In fact, I am willing to bet that the majority of the students and people here in Ann Arbor don’t share those views. Marches and rallies were organized to show that we are willing to accept all, despite what some hurtful pieces of papers say. We, as a university and community, are not going to go on a witch hunt. That would bring us right on to the same low level as the person who hung those posters. Instead, we will make it even more clear to the public eye that those opinions belong to a vast minority of people here.

  14. Due to recent events on campus, many students have been upset and felt discriminated against. These emotions are completely valid and the reason for these emotions is a very disturbing series of events. While the posters are awful and very hurtful, the University has not done much about it. Although these posters may (or may not) be protected under the constitution and freedom of speech and the university is limited in what they can do to stop their appearance I do believe that the University has another obligation outside of upholding student’s rights as individuals of the United States. The University of Michigan must keep the campus a safe space and I believe it can do anything in it’s power to do so.

    The posters that have been seen on campus do not create a very safe space and make many students feel uncomfortable. They are seen as racists acts and should not be allowed, however, I understand that the University has no place to take such postings down. I do think though that more needs to be done to ensure that the campus is a safe and inclusive place. This is not being done at the moment, or the little that is being done is coming from the students and not the University. Faculty needs to address this and not pretend as if it is not happening. If nothing is done then this could spiral out of control and produce a very negative stigma about the University of Michigan.

  15. I agree that it is often somewhat of a grey area when dealing with the limits of free speech. While I think that the University was right in taking down the flyers and in stopping the students from doing something like this again I think legal action beyond that becomes grey. Not because the people who did this don’t deserve it but because of the precedent it establishes when someone can be legally punished for being offensive and hateful, as while we can probably all agree these flyers were future situations may not be as clear cut, which I think should be taken into consideration.

  16. One of the key aspects that makes America unique is its freedom of speech, religion, etc. However, there is a fine line between what is acceptable and what is not. Anything that is demeaning or hurtful in nature should never be allowed. I think the University of Michigan agrees with my statement and as such permits freedom under reasonable constraints. However, since this case abused the freedom we were given, I think the university will inflict severe punishments and potentially look at expulsion.

  17. The right to freedom of speech is an extremely important foundation of this country. However, I think that this right pertains more to legal matters and whether or not someone can be criminally condemned for saying something. In the case of the flyers, that happened on school property and in a University of Michigan building. Despite what the law says, the university has the right of its own to denounce and punish people for hurtful things they say if it causes harm to the university or students within the university. So while the freedom of speech obviously stands in the court of law, I think the university is perfectly within its bounds to issue suspensions or expulsions for racist expression.

  18. It is challenging to draw any distinctive line on the limits of free speech without infringing on some stature of either moral or legal bounds. It’s difficult to say that the posters, even in the eyes of the constitution, have a legal right to exist. The racism, prejudice, and bigotry is so grossly appalling that to say the fliers are in any way, shape, or form acceptable is inane. Conversely, it could almost be too simple to say that they are not allowed to be put up at all. It is a right given to the people of our nation to say and express whatever they want, regardless how extreme or, at times, offensive. However, limits do exist. Similar to the famous and well-known examples already given, there must be restrictions. Hate speech has absolutely no place on this campus, or any other. The degenerate filth of society leaving behind their insular garbage is a reminder that there still exist people unworthy of the space they occupy on this Earth, and every breath they take disgusts me beyond any form of expression. The depravity of their naïve conduct debases the atmosphere and inclusiveness of this institution, and they have no place in the University of Michigan, or any other respectable constituent of society. I am sick that there is anyone in the world whose beliefs are so anachronistic, belonging more in the height of slave trade than in modern America. There is no group, race, class, or creed who has committed any action to make them worthy of all-encompassing degenerative labels and degrading remarks. Such materials should never be permitted on any campus, or anywhere else without question. This is just another unfortunate reminder that there is still a very long and arduous road ahead to achieve equality, whether one is a member of the LGBTQ community, an underrepresented ethnicity, or a discriminated religion, and it is the responsibility of the individual, the bystander, to at no point tolerate such purposeless acts which are designed to hurt others.

  19. I believe it is vital for hate speech to be banned everywhere, and for all of us to be aware of the difference between hate speech and appropriate free speech. Hate speech only serves to divide, label, and oftentimes misinform us. Appropriate free speech serves to vocalize ideas and opinions in ways that don’t serve as personal attacks on certain people or groups. I think the best way to get people to understand this is by stressing the importance of strong communities and considering the viewpoints of others. Additionally we need to realize that there is no environment in which hate speech is appropriate. Although not necessarily regarded as hate speech I believe it is also important to discourage “locker room talk”, as so unapologetically stated by Donald Trump regarding his comments on women in his 2005 Access Hollywood video. Galvanizing speech such as hate speech rarely results in progress, and instead encourages the polarization of political groups, alienation of ethnic groups, and use of stereotypes among our communities. Why tear each other apart if it’s going to do nothing but cause pain, fear, and worry?

  20. I believe that there is a definite line that comes along with free speech. As you said, our constitution states that free speech allows anything that does not cause harm to another human being. At first glance, the hateful posters that ere strung up on our campus may not have seemed to cause any harm, or at least, not any physical harm. However, the emotional harm that they caused should be taken into deep consideration. There is a difference in offending someone and attacking their identity. When flyers outlining why a white women should never date a black man are not only hung in the MLB and Mason Hall, places were thousands of students go to class everyday, but are slid under the doors of dorm rooms, the statements being made are not offensive- they are much worse than that. They are a direct attack on a person’s identity. Racial statements are a threat such as these are a verbal attack on another human being. When a student of color who received or saw those signs can no longer feel safe or accepted when going to class, multiple aspects of their life are being harmed: their happiness, academic success, social behavior, and sense of safety. A college campus should be safe, and every student should be able to enjoy their everyday life free of concern about the color of their skin. I believe that publicized comments that can be considered direct attacks on another human being should have legal repercussions, because they have the ability to build tension in and tear apart a community- results that have long-term effects much worse than what would come from yelling “FIRE” in a crowded building.

  21. Firstly, I really admire and appreciate the fact that you are acknowledging this grey area of free speech, and that you have further initiated a discussion on the topic; often, we try to avoid acknowledging such controversial and confusing issues due to the discomfort that can be created by there being no defined line of what is right and what is wrong. Nevertheless, I believe that it is crucial that these grey-area issues be discussed and that we challenge ourselves to open our minds to new/differing views.
    Similar to what gabyoung said, I believe that the power to be able to speak freely should be used positively in a way that would progress and strengthen our nation. With so many controversial issues occurring within our country and throughout today’s world, and with the diversity of humanity advancing greater than ever, it is so crucial that we as humans work together to understand, appreciate, and respect one another’s differences. In the end, it boils down to the fact that we are all human beings, and that we all deserve the equal right and opportunity to go about our lives desirably without having our happiness and safety be infringed upon.

    1. Freedom of speech can be a great thing because it gives us the power to be able to express and voice our opinions. Along with that, there is always going to be people that abuse it and push the limits to this right especially, to the point where it is more than expressing your opinion and just attacking others. How are we as a nation able to draw a line and judge what is to be said and what can’t be, because once again that is an opinion. I think the posters that were put up are disgusting and it is really disappointing that in this day in age we have people that are so close minded and unaccepting of ideas that should have been let go of long ago. At what point are we going to be able to love a person as the person they are and nothing more. I am so glad that we are able to exercise freedom of speech because there are so many places that are not able to, but why do we use it to hurt other people? Why are we not able to respectfully voice our opinions and have intelligent conversation instead of bashing a whole group of people and just sounding ignorant? It all comes down to if what you say affects other people even emotionally, and just we all need to be more mindful before we say things.

  22. You bring up such a relevant topic, where do we draw the line at freedom of speech? It is such a gray area that a lot of people don’t like to get into. I absolutely agree that everyone has the right to freedom of speech, and I believe that that should never be violated. However, what happens when someone’s words violate another person? The group that put those horrible posters us may have been exercising their freedom of speech, but they were also causing harm to a vast majority of the students on campus. I don’t think that should be allowed. You also mention it could be seen that the people that took the posters down were infringing on the group’s freedom of speech. But since they were harming others, does it all kind of cancel out? Even I get a little confused, which is why it’s called a gray area! What I do know is that no one should be unsafe on our campus, and it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to make sure that doesn’t happen.

  23. This is a very interesting topic and I am glad you brought it up. Racial discrimination has been a problem for hundreds of years now and it is sad to see that it is still prevalent today. I came to Ann Arbor, knowing of the things I heard about students and even professors being racist towards minorities, but never did I expect someone to post derogatory statements around the school. When things like this happens I always think about what makes me different from that of a white person. Why must someone hate me so much because I am darker. We all breathe in the same air , walk on the same ground, and go to the same school, but why do I have to be hated so much.

    I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion and feelings and freedom of speech, but not when it is diminishing someone else. What was posted around this campus was disrespectful and against the code and conduct of The University of Michigan. I do believe this or these students should be held accountable for their actions and dismissed from the university. I do not believe they should be put in jail but they should be taken out of this community. In order to have a healthy life and home you must take the bad things out and get rid of anything that is not helping you. These students who posted these statements do not support this campus and clearly should not be a part of it.

    It hurts me every time I hear of anything involving racial discrimination especially when people try to back it up with freedom of speech. It’s not called the freedom to disrespect or the freedom to harm, and people tend to take it out of context. I know that this world is not perfect and racism is one thing that may never go away. God made us all to be unique and different but to love each other, not look at each other as an outcast because we may not be the same color.

  24. I absolutely believe that whatever students posted the fliers should face punishment for their actions. I understand that the Constitution gives us freedom of speech, however, there are amendments that limit those freedoms in some aspects. In the Supreme Court Case Tinker vs. Des Moines School District, the Supreme Court decided that although we have a right to express ourselves in schools, however, it did not have the right to invade the rights of others or disrupt school activities. I agree with gabyoung in regards to the fact that there is a difference between hate speech and speech Posting these fliers invaded the rights of African American students to learn in a hostile free and comfortable environment. The University of Michigan has a pretty extensive policy that states how they are against discrimination and harassment. Every student is expected to abide by that policy, so for someone to blatantly disrupt the policy, consequences definitely need to be taken. These posters obviously offended African-American students, and for someone to create an unwelcoming environment where people are paying money to receive an education and learn inside and outside of the classroom, this is not a good look for the University of Michigan. Just issuing a public statement saying that you are looking into it is not enough. Actions need to be taken to ensure that these people are held accountable. I understand that the bigger issues at hand are not going to resolve themselves overnight, but progress has to start somewhere.

  25. Although the freedom of speech says that all individuals are allowed to freely express their thoughts, I think that it should be controlled. Although the freedom of speech is a powerful tool, it can also be dangerous. Some people do have these awful thoughts that were presented on posters around campus, but I do not think they should be allowed to go around posting them. Blatant racism is more than just words. It has a strong mental effect on those groups targeted. I do not think that speech that targets or demeans certain groups should be allowed under the rule of “freedom of speech”. I think that the University of Michigan dealt with this situation very well. By taking down the posters, releasing a statement that condemned these posters, and the faculty rallying around the students affected, it showed that the University of Michigan does not, in any way, support these statements.
    In general, in the month I have been here at least, I think the University of Michigan does a great job dealing with our freedoms. They allow for peaceful protests and respectful debate. The university fosters an environment of thought provoking arguments, as long as these arguments are respectful. It goes along with my previously mentioned thought that the freedom of speech is powerful when used correctly, and I support the way the university steps in when this right is being abused.

  26. Although all Americans are granted the right of free speech in the constitution, abusing that right to hurt others and discriminate against certain groups of people comes with consequences. Just because you say something, it doesn’t mean people have to agree with you. There will always be people who disagree, and when morals come into play, people tend to have the natural tendency to want everyone to be happy and supported — people thrive better that way. When people say these racist things, of course there is going to be backlash. I personally do not think saying hurtful and hateful things should be tolerated, especially on a college campus because all students should feel welcome at their home away from home.
    I think the University has done a very good job at handling these recent events. They have made it distinctly clear that all students should feel welcome and safe on campus and any type of hateful speech or discrimination will not and should not be tolerated.

  27. You bring some very interesting points into the continuing controversy surrounding the flyers. It is hard to believe that hate speech such as the display within the past few weeks can be protected under the constitution. Wouldn’t this be considered an infringement on someone else’s rights? As far as the ripping down of the posters is concerned, I do not believe it is infringing on the free speech of those who put them up. In fact it is freedom of speech that secures one’s right to rip down the posters. It is an expression, a statement of one’s feelings. If they are allowed to put the insulting posters up, then it is our right to tear them down. We cannot rely souly on the institution to fix the problem. The university is trying but there are so many levels of approval to go through to make sure everything is politically correct that it takes an extremely long time to accomplish anything. One of the few immediate effects is the tearing down of flyers. We are the citizens of this country that was founded on the idea of a “for the people, by the people” run government.

  28. Although I knew this type of racism would eventually come, I fought to believe that Ann Arbor was just a little different. As i was growing up, I was not forced to understand the cruel realities that were among me: however, they did not go unnoticed. I agree that their is a grey area that protects those who use their freedom of speech to demean others groups of individuals and I also know that there is a way to change it. But the problem arrises when priorities are placed on issue. Meaning some societal issues are marked as “more important” while others are just viewed as “less important”. So, as I’ve grown up more and more racism is exposed through one’s freedom of speech and this issue continues to get viewed as “less important”. Therefore, I believe that until the importance of this situation is viewed in a respectable light, no progress can truly be made.

  29. It is true that there is a definite grey area when we are dealing with freedom of speech. The people should have a right to express their views and opinions and it is situations such as the racial posters that can make the matter complex. Though the posters do not pose a physical threat like the allegations of “FIRE” would, they pose mental and social threats. Yes, those who took down the posters may have infringed upon the rights of freedom of speech but what about the fact that these posters infringing upon the right to feel that we are created equal? I am glad that you brought up the idea that these posters were in their right to freedom of speech and/ or press, however, just as they (poster makers) were expressing a right, they were taking a right away from a group of people. A situation like this is small but it is an issue that was build off of the civil strife this country has faced since slavery. This situation is very convoluted because one cannot easily express who was in the wrong or how far repercussions should be taken. I think it is important for us all to simply remember to be respectful and ethical when expressing our views, especially in a community as large as the Michigan community. Because Michigan is such a big community, our freedoms are dealt with in a reasonable manner and many have reached out to help those who are taking the flyer situation rather personally.

  30. I think that being able to have free speech is very important. However, there’s a boundary to what is okay to say and what is not okay to say. Freedom of speech should be available to criticize the government and talk about things that won’t harm others. I agree that some things are just not good to say such as shouting “bomb” or “fire.” Freedom of speech allows you to say anything that you want to say, but sometimes people use this freedom unnecessarily. Many people use freedom of speech to spread hate and negative messages, and while it’s perfectly legal, it’s just not respectful to others. People should be able to speak freely, but also they should keep in mind that they should respect others.

  31. I think that freedom of speech is very important. It is one of the reasons why America is and was one of the most unique nations that there is. Do some people push that line too far sometimes? Of course. I also believe that some people also take these issues to completely new levels. I was trying to cram a paper and other homework. The day the flyers went out, I simply had bigger problems then a flyer. However, when I was able to sit down again and reflect the issue I realized a lot. In my English class this summer here on campus we were asked if people can violate their freedoms. Just the way people can’t shout “fire,” they should not be allowed to harm others with their words in such a foul way. That is just my opinion, but I think others feel the same way too. Our society is also very fast paced and I think our reactions are seen at the speed of light. This can also be a reason why each issue was blown up so large and so quickly. Freedom of speech has really brought us to communicate in real time. I think each individual should reflect for themselves and also develop an opinion on if there should be limits on speech.

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