Evan Louisiana

We Find These Falsehoods to be Self-Evident

My name is Evan Schwarzenbach and I am a 16 year old living in Lafayette Louisiana. I am worried about the future of free speech in the U.S., especially pertaining to college campuses. As a future college student, I hope these problems will be addressed.

 Dear President Trump

We Find These Falsehoods to be Self Evident

Censorship in the United States is a festering cancer that, since unchecked, has already metastasized; it, if untreated, will kill off its host. Stifling opposition has become commonplace in the educational centers of America: colleges. The current atmosphere of campus life can only be described as either dangerously ignorant or willfully evil. Student governments are proposing legislation that would restrict the marketplace of ideas which, in effect, puts a price on free speech, only to be paid by the unfortunate people who disagree with them. Since the cancer of censorship has spread to places of higher education, the brainwashing of students is occurring on a massive scale. These students advocate for the silencing of opinions that they disagree with; they are advocating for the blatant infringement of constitutional rights. Protecting the constitutional right to free speech should be achieved through allowing ideas to be judged based off of their merit; doing this allows the best ideas to come to fruition while destroying fallacious ideologies through the usage of argument.

While speech can be used to physically threaten, to defame, or to incite violence, it should not be limited, except for these cases. The exceptions to these cases are extremes, and offence is not one of these. Offence is often used as an excuse for censorship, but the First Amendment was created with offensive arguments specifically in mind. A nightmare of the founding fathers was one of a government led campaign to legislate feelings to suppress the voice of the people. Precisely said legislation is being proposed in colleges. Many colleges (especially those in Britain) are experiencing student governments with an agenda to stamp out conservative opinions. Instead of combatting through discussion and debate, British student president of the NUS (National Union of Students) Malia Bouttia insists that her opposition is Islam-phobic. She essentially claims victory over a debate she never participated in by dismissing everyone who disagrees with her as prejudiced. Not giving every argument a chance to explain why it may offer the best solution to a problem is dangerous. Limiting ideas stifles competition in the marketplace of ideas; a monopoly then forms that only allows its opinions a platform.

The understanding of politically charged subjects can only be achieved by giving everyone a platform to speak their mind. The competition and combatting of ideas brings truths to fruition and falsehoods to the grave. A writer on free speech, Oliver Kamm, writes “Knowledge advances through the destruction of bad ideas.” He emphasizes that information can only improve if ideas are destroyed through logic and reason. Argument is employed to destroy fallacious concepts, and arguments flow through truth. Not giving every argument a chance to explain itself will let other more fallacious opinions to rule, and the river of logic that people swim through to form opinions can only flow if no falsehoods damn it.

Societies achieve self-determination through free speech and expression. As an experienced farmer leads a bull by the head, societies lead freedom by the mouth. In the past, certain countries have approached speech as controllable. The Soviet Union under Stalin and Maoist China heavily censored content not run by the state to suppress dissent. There was only one party leading the people, one idea presenting itself, and one opinion forming; it is not a coincidence that these are two of the most oppressive regimes in history. People were in hell on earth. In contrast, America has freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion, because of this we are “the land of the free”.

Free speech allows ideas to evolve and grow through the destruction of bad ideas. Censorship is said bad idea; we find its falsehoods to be self-evident. The constitution and the First Amendment must be protected if America hopes to achieve freedom. Should America still be called “the land of the free”, or should we give into censorship? Be careful which one you choose for our legacy is at stake.

Sincerely, Evan

Bibliography

Kamm, Oliver. "Free Speech Should Not Be Redgulated." Civil Liberties, edited by Roman Espejo, Greenhaven Press, 2009. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/ViewpointsDetailsPage/ViewpointsDetailsWindow?disableHighlighting=&displayGroupName=Viewpoints&currPage=&dviSelectedPage=&scanId=&query=&prodId=OVIC&search_within_results=&p=OVIC&mode=view&catId=&limiter=&display-query=&displayGroups=&contentModules=&action=e&sortBy=&documentId=GALE%7CEJ3010118266&windowstate=normal&activityType=&failOverType=&commentary=&source=Bookmark&u=lafa43079&jsid=928dd9126fed6810d534c6e40f9b0257. Accessed 10 Nov. 2016. Originally published as "The Tyranny of Moderation" in Index On Censorship, Feb. 2007, pp. 82-86.

O'Neill, Brendan. "The Internet's War on Free Speech." Spectator, 14 May 2016, p. 20+. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/MagazinesDetailsPage/MagazinesDetailsWindow?disableHighlighting=true&displayGroupName=Magazines&currPage=&scanId=&query=&prodId=OVIC&search_within_results=&p=OVIC&mode=view&catId=&limiter=&display-query=&displayGroups=&contentModules=&action=e&sortBy=&documentId=GALE%7CA452364481&windowstate=normal&activityType=&failOverType=&commentary=true&source=Bookmark&u=lafa43079&jsid=516f3188694d6cb628c346bacfdd2201. Accessed 10 Nov. 2016.

O'Neill, Brendan. "The Students Fight Back: A Pro-Free Speech-And Anti-NUS-Rebellion Is Gathering Steam at Universities All over Britain." Spectator, 8 Oct. 2016, p. 20+. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/MagazinesDetailsPage/MagazinesDetailsWindow?disableHighlighting=true&displayGroupName=Magazines&currPage=&scanId=&query=&prodId=OVIC&search_within_results=&p=OVIC&mode=view&catId=&limiter=&display-query=&displayGroups=&contentModules=&action=e&sortBy=&documentId=GALE%7CA466273321&windowstate=normal&activityType=&failOverType=&commentary=true&source=Bookmark&u=lafa43079&jsid=2ba955898a316bd015fffbd3b1faee46. Accessed 10 Nov. 2016.