Campus protesters don’t understand First Amendment

Camden Metheny, Editor


Recently, there have been some civil rights issues at the University of Missouri in Columbia, as well as Yale, Amherst, University of Chicago, and many more colleges across the country. The problem isn’t with racism, despite their claims, but against free speech. These students are wanting a “safe space,” something to help protect their feelings. While I agree that students should feel physically safe, I don’t believe that censoring speech because it upset you should be allowed.

The University of Missouri, fairly known for its journalism school, is one of the larger culprits of this. A student journalist that was trying to film some of the protests was prevented from doing so by a communications teacher, of all people. Preventing someone from filming a protest on public ground is a form of censorship, since they have just as much a right to be there as the protesters.

Some schools have even gone as far as blocking journalists unless they are there to cover their protests in a positive light, preventing any type of bad press. By doing so contradicts their intentions and tends to generate bad press. Journalists that are covering an event aren’t there to share their opinion unless they’re writing an editorial or a review. The main goal is to tell the story of that event, taking a neutral stance. By preventing a journalist from doing their job, then that becomes part of the story, which makes whatever organization or group that has blocked any reporter look bad.

At Yale, students have demanded a “safe space” because they were offended by some Halloween costumes. Some students even went so far as to say that they were entitled to feel safe and comfortable. This contradicts what college is about. It’s supposed to challenge your mind and introduce you to different ideologies that conflict with your own and may make you feel uncomfortable. But the world is not going to conform to your wants and needs. There are no safe spaces in the real world, and people are just going to mock you if you live your life in your own little bubble.

Schools all over have seen fliers and organizations trying to ban free speech and other things that they deem offensive. The thing about that is that it’s tailored specifically for them. They don’t care what others think. These “Social Justice Warriors” are perfectly fine with censoring someone that they disagree with, even if the person being censored is clearly in the right. To them, everyone is allowed to think what they want, just as long as it fits a certain criteria and couldn’t possibly offend anyone.

Censorship of any kind is wrong. We’re guaranteed the freedom of speech by the First Amendment, no matter who’s offended, no matter whose feelings are hurt, no matter whose opinions differ from your own. That’s the beauty of it. We are allowed to be our own person, and no one can tell us that we can’t.

Once you start censoring people, things start to look like Orwell’s “1984.” Once that happens, there’s no going back. Censorship or any other violation of our First Amendment rights is not what this country is about. It’s what makes us who we are. It sucks the life out of everything. Things may seem fine, but you know deep down that life without free speech is not a life worth living.