With the ongoing radicalization of both the left and the right across our nation, there has been a consistent push for discussing whether to expand or restrict our free speech.
The First Amendment means to me that any speech can be allowed unless it does not encourage peace, causes violence or is untruthful. Analyzing the context of such a law, it allows all people, even the most radical, the ability to share their opinions if they do not break these rules.
Connecting the First Amendment’s ideal with campus events points me to the Wiz Khalifa concert occurring later this evening and the myriad of posts and opinions on social media about how our university’s image will be tarnished for inviting such an artist.
Even though those opinions are a bit rash, we must understand that if we want to promote universities as playgrounds of free thinking, then we must allow it. That does not necessarily make it right, but you cannot have freedom of speech for yourself and not everybody else.
I do not support the alt-left or the neo-Nazis, but trying to suppress speech on both sides will only create more violence than there already is. College campuses across the country are continuing to reduce free speech zones, rather than keep them the way they are, which makes no sense whatsoever.
My point is that if organizations keep cutting speech coming from a group who are different than them, then what about yourself? What if one day the tables turn, and your side must fight to keep your voices heard?
We live in a time where we are expected to pick a side based on the status quo but in doing that we are consistently repeating history and further polarizing ourselves into silos.
Instead, we must throw out the violent and hateful rhetoric on both sides and work to move forward.
I am glad to see the university continuously trying to create dialogue over such topics, although it cannot be effective if people do not show up.
We must follow the university’s Creed and allow people of all ideologies and opinions to speak their minds as long as they do not break the rules the First Amendment sets out.
Using force to shut up someone who is not violating the First Amendment, just because you do not agree with his or her views or feel yours is right, is undemocratic and pathetic.
Our country and our universities are supposed to be places for the free trade of ideas, not the mentality of suppression simply because “my opinion and beliefs are better than yours.”
If we continue to polarize, speak hate and shut people up, then, in the end, we will not have any speech, and another civil war could be on our hands. In the 21st century and the age of information, there is no excuse not to have an open mind on everything that occurs in this world.
You do not have to agree with everything a person says, but I have learned there is always something I could agree on, as well as something I can re-explain in a unique perspective that I see as wrong.
George Washington, a slaveholder and our first president, proclaimed in his farewell speech that political parties would eventually have adverse consequences.
So, stop being passive on societal issues and stand for what is right whether you view yourself as left, right, center, communist or anarchist.
Jonathan Lovelady is a junior economics major from Los Angeles.