"How far do you think free speech should go?" was the question in DU's student paper, the Clarion, March 4 edition. I was stunned at what I read in the answers of five students. Not one of the responses printed, showed the slightest understanding of what free speech is or why it is important.
One by the name of Carolyn stated, for example: "When you start targeting and hurting specific groups, you're taking free speech too far and abusing the rights that have been given to us."
If I may use this as merely an example: When did you begin to believe that the Constitution guarantees your right not to be offended? When did you begin to believe that the government GIVES you rights at all? Our founders wrote the Constitution and our Bill of Rights to PROTECT the rights they believed were inalienable-that is, not bestowed by any government.
The growing confusion about the simple and clear definition of free speech itself is troubling and doesn't bode well for the education of college students, let alone K-12.
The First Amendment protects you from being punished by the government for what you say. It does not protect you from being criticized by your friends, those for whom you work, clients you serve, or even those who say stupid things. It doesn't even protect celebrities from those who refuse to watch their movies for something they've said.
It occurs to me that one of the reasons so many people have trouble with this, is because they think the government and all other private institutions are one in the same. That, to put it bluntly, is frightening.
When the private and public merge, the government can control everything you say or do. Think about it! Better yet, Carolyn, Laura, Dylan, Jessica and Riley, please pick up a copy of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I think you'll find it a fascinating reading.
Editor: This was published as a letter in the April 22 edition of the Clarion