Sunday, November 29, 2020

Protect students’ free speech

Students at Emory College in Atlanta, have recently been divided by a conflict regarding the support of presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Students woke up to messages of Trump support written in chalk all over campus. Anger and worry broke out as students claimed they “didn’t feel safe on campus anymore” with the knowledge that there are so many Trump supporters co-existing with them, according to a Washington Post article. The chalk drawings that simply say, “Trump 2016” have spiraled into protests and open forums on campus.

OK, c’mon guys. I hate Donald Trump as much as the next person. Would I be annoyed if I saw Trump support flooding my campus? Sure. Would I be worried for the greater good of all humanity to learn that so many people in such a close proximity to me support a racist hate-mongering, self-absorbed, shell of a man? Of course, I would. I don’t agree with Trump supporters at all, but I’ll defend freedom of speech until my last breath.

Indirectly, Trump support could be called offensive, but it’s really just a big logic puzzle that we’re creating in our minds. Trump has said offensive things, therefore he is offensive, therefore if you support him, you are also offensive, therefore writing “Trump 2016” on a sidewalk is offensive.

I’m sure plenty of people find it offensive, but that doesn’t mean we’re allowed to take away basic rights of the people just because we’re annoyed or offended. I’d understand if there were words written that targeted a certain group of people, but that isn’t the case. Targeting groups and writing racist sentiments on campus is not upheld by freedom of speech. That’s unethical and hateful.

However, supporting a candidate is an American right. Speaking out that you support him, whether that leads people to question your character or not, is freedom of speech in the simplest form. Sure it’s unfortunate, but to say “Trump 2016” is a threat strikes me as hypersensitive.

Silencing Trump supporters isn’t the answer. Instead of taking away one’s right to express support, you should be asking, “Why do you support this person?”

Have a conversation. Convince and persuade. Silencing people brings about anger and hatred which is exactly why we don’t like Trump in the first place, right?
Conversations lead to an understanding. If you feel unsafe around Trump supporters, tell them why.

I really believe that that’s one of the major shortcomings to our generation. We don’t know how to talk to each other or reach agreeable conclusions in a diplomatic way. We’ve been raised in an era where we didn’t have to look someone in the eye when we wanted to talk to them. We’ve communicated through computers and cellphones, and it’s affected the way we interact.

Instead of going directly to the faculty at Emory, these students could have directly addressed their Trump-loving peers and perhaps we’d be having different conversation.

A lot of people my age are itching for something, anything, to protest. There are handfuls of 20 somethings who feel as though they’re old souls who were meant to be born in the 1960s. They’re ready and willing to jump on a cause if it means starting some kind of “revolution.” I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it’s nice to be putting energy into important causes, rather than something mildly annoying that will most likely not physically harm you.

Standing up for your own beliefs does not mean having to silence others. Talk to your neighbor. Pick his brain, open his eyes, but do not close his mouth.

Email Courtney Casey at cp@cardinalpointsonline.com

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