Freedom of speech is one of the most fundamental rights that Americans enjoy. It is also one of the most threatened rights, because freedom of speech means the freedom to express one’s discontent with the statues quo and the desire to change it. Some fight to set limits to our freedom of speech, while others fight to defend it. Hentoff is one of those people who fight, via writing, to defend it. Hentoff’s position on Brown University’s expulsion of Douglas Hann is a reasonable one. He persuasively argues against the expulsion. Hentoff starts by describing the event that resulted in the expulsion.
Then, he describes the expulsion itself. After that, Hentoff describes Vartan Gregorian’s role in the expulsion. He then goes on to describe the effect the expulsion had on the student body. Lastly, he describes the letter Gregorian wrote to the New York Times, as well as the criticism that followed. Along with Hentoff’s piece was the Times editorial to which the piece was a response. The editorial supports Brown University’s expulsion of Douglas Hann. It begins by explaining the “complex mission” of a university. It goes on to briefly describe the event that led to the expulsion.
After that, it describes the expulsion itself. Lastly, it discusses Gregorian’s letter and gives a final thought on the topic. In addition to the editorial was Gregorian’s letter to the editor, to which the piece was also a response. It starts with Gregorian stating that “Brown University has never expelled anyone for free speech, nor will it ever do so. ” Then he states his morals concerning free speech. After that, he discusses the university’s code of conduct. He ends the letter with some final thoughts and states a goal of the university.
In his letter, Gregorian states that he is committed to free speech. However, he has yet to show it. Freedom of speech is essential in maintaining a free society. The right to express one’s thoughts and to communicate freely with others supports the dignity and worth of each member of society. It is a stepping-stone in the attainment and advancement of our knowledge. All points of view, even those that are “bad” or “socially harmful”, should be considered with all other facts and ideas to test one’s own conclusions against or for others.
The implementation of speech codes on college campuses throughout America is meant to protect those individuals or groups who have repeatedly been vulnerable to criticism and harassment. This supposedly creates a peaceful, protected environment for the students as they prepare for a career and a future in the real world. However, the freedom to think and express one’s views no matter how unpopular those views may be is an essential component to any college campus.