Designed for individual freedom and the assurance of an open society, the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition. Generally speaking, most people believe in the right to free speech, but there is debate on whether it should cover flag-burning, hard-core rap, hate speech, pornography, solicitation and various forms of symbolic speech. Many would agree to limit some forms of free expression, especially on college campuses. I am not one of those people. I believe all campuses should adhere to First Amendment principles academic freedom is one of the foundations of education in a free society.
No social institution is better suited to fight narrow-mindedness than a university. It can do so in its courses and perhaps most importantly, through the way it conducts itself as a community. There is a difference between regulating speech and regulating action. Murder is illegal. Talking about Murder is not.
Freedom of thought and expression is particularly important on college campuses. The educational forum is where individuals come together to participate in a process of shared inquiry and where the success of that attempt depends on an atmosphere of openness, intellectual honesty and tolerance for different ideas. If speech on campuses is restricted, students might be afraid to voice their opinions in fear of punishment. Ideology and inspiration on campus could ultimately cease.
The U.S. Supreme Court did rule in 1942, in a case called Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire, that intimidating speech directed at a specific individual in a face-to-face confrontation amounts to "fighting words," and that the person engaging in such speech can be punished if "by their very utterance [the words] inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace." Suppose, for example, a white college student refers to a black student during a class...