Free speech is a right that is not arbitrary or refutable, and our campus’s Free Speech Zone is symbolic of that.
I think it’s awesome that the university made this a feature of the plaza. Granted, the zone itself is a huge double-edged sword and comes with many not-awesome side effects, but that is to be expected, and the overall intentions of having a Free Speech Zone on campus are noble. I believe that eliminating our Free Speech Zone simply in reaction to its abuse by outside groups would be ridiculous for a host of reasons.
Many people and areas have had to deal with similar issues in the past. Ever since the First Amendment was passed, there have been people throughout history who have crapped all over that right and shoved at its boundaries, leading some people to wonder (like some students here on campus): are we too free, do we really ought to able to say outrageous, obscene things?
These discussions about policy are as natural and beneficial as the abuse of a right. These are the very processes that help shape laws, it helps us to better define our laws and articulate them. For example, if you were to shout “Fire” in a crowded theater simply to cause panic and not warn of actual danger, you would not be protected by the First Amendment. We wouldn’t have this articulation to protect against malicious speech had some idiot not actually done this.
Now, I will concede that the Free Speech Zone is constantly misused. Its continual abuse by outside special interest groups is annoying and has the potential to create a negative atmosphere in the Plaza. It would be spectacular if use of the Zone could be restricted to current CSU students and/or alumni, but obviously there are some sticky legal issues that prevent that from being a viable policy.
I’m sure administration has considered it many times. But we can’t let this get to us. Ladies, I know that preachers call you sluts. I know that you and homosexuals are the most targeted and harassed out of all of us, and that there is some legitimate hate speech going on out there that university officials should really keep an eye on.
However, you’ve got to realize that these extremists are crazy, irrational people who don’t make up a large enough body to gain any sort of political clout, and whose kind will probably be endangered or extinct within your lifetime. You shouldn’t take to heart what these people say, because it doesn’t reflect how the rest of us feel.
It would be an insult to justice if we eliminated our Free Speech Zone in the face of its abuse. Our country was founded on the belief of freedom of expression, and we ought to stand up for our rights, rather than weaken them. Let’s take back the Plaza for ourselves, rather than giving into its abusers.
Sean Kennedy is a undeclared freshman. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org