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Free speech: Is the gain worth the pain?

Isaac Morley
Isaac Morley

When you think of the plaza on campus, most people will think of the roaming bands of annoying activist groups, each vying for your attention, money and signature. You think of crowded environments, normally clogged by students but even more polluted with people who do not need to be on campus. The plaza is one of the most trafficked places on campus and yet it is one that most people would avoid if they could. And yet all this would be eliminated with the removal of the free speech classification of the area.

While the freedom of speech is an important, and inalienable right in a large forum, such as a state, city, or nation, it has also become one of the most abused and misunderstood rights in our society. This right, which some people misinterpret to be that you can say whatever you want whenever you want, has been used to the point that it has begun to hurt our society. The simple fact is we must weigh the good against the bad in consideration of the public health and safety in the long run.

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Whether it’s misrepresentation of religion, eco-terrorists or some twisted form of pro-life and pro-choice, the plaza has become a siege against the academic community, affecting students trying to go to class and go about their day to day lives.

Under the guise of free speech, these people storm our campus and take away our peace, and while I am not advocating the abolition of the right to freedom of speech, I do think we need to get rid of the free speech plaza on campus.

Sure, on occasion it is used by students for the correct purpose of an academic forum in which students are truly informed on current issues with accurate representation of information, but let’s be honest, that is about 1 in 100 of the groups that are there.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I truly do believe this, but if your own opinion is that you should be accosting students on a daily basis to the point where it affects their academic performance, or their mental health, how about you take that opinion to Boulder.

I recognize that you believe that you are right to be doing these things. What I don’t believe is that you have a right to hurt people in any way, be it physically or verbally, because you believe that what others are doing is wrong.

We would never allow hate crimes to occur in the middle of campus (or hopefully anywhere) in which a group were singled out and physically assaulted, so why are we allowing these same hate crimes to occur in a verbal setting? It’s time to say enough is enough.

The plaza ends up doing more harm than it does good, it’s time we close up shop and recognize that the idea for a place for the freedom of speech on campus was a good one, but sadly, much like communism, democracy and the consumption of Taco Bell, what sounds amazing in theory ends up as a bad decision in practice.

Isaac Morley is a sophomore Business and English Education double major. He enjoys being left in peace as he walks through the plaza. Follow him on Twitter @Isaac_Morley – Letters, feedback, and guest columns can be sent in to letters@collegian.com

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