Triggers vs. Free Speech

In his essay “Creative Democracy,” education reformer and philosopher John Dewey wrote “the heart and final guarantee of democracy is in free discussion. Everything which bars freedom and fullness of communication undermines the democratic way of life.”

Now 81, I have long been in favor of free speech, a basic Constitutional right of all American citizens. I am appalled by current college and university trigger warnings and sanctions against free speech, despite claims that their censorship is based on admirable motives.

Speech that may offend someone is a human right that should not be restricted by something as arbitrary as hurt feelings claimed by anyone who gains attention, recognition and publicity by so doing.

Because our current political culture from the very top down is clearly poisonous, destructive and dangerous, universities and colleges must once again start treating students like adults. They must prepare them to participate fully in the upcoming healthy, vibrant, truthful, evidence-based, necessary political change just around the corner.

Working together, we can — and we will — create it.

Jerome Garger 


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