Loosing the freedom of free speech

By Laura Van De Pette
February 17, 2005

How free is your speech at Cabrini College? College students and professors across the country are questioning whether or not to keep their mouths shut after the president of Harvard University voiced a controversial opinion. According to the Christian Science Monitor, “Harvard University president Lawrence Summers suggested that innate differences between the sexes may partly account for male dominance in science and math.” His comments have triggered a flurry of discussions concerning the extent of free speech.

Many people agree that such comments make college interesting and inspire debates and intelligent minds to voice their opinions. But does the position of authority in the Harvard University case change the extent of free speech? I believe part of the complete college experience is debating your point of view against an opposing view. Whether the opposing view is another student or a professor or an administrator, the intention is to stimulate the minds of students.

As an aspiring journalist, I often tip-toe around words and try to put the facts nicely as to not offend anyone, but I am beginning to wonder whether posing questions and stating facts is more effective when put honestly and candidly as Harvard University’s president did a few weeks ago.

Recently, I experienced first hand the short leash that is choking and limiting how free my free speech really is. There are so many things I have wanted to say regarding Coach Dzik and his unfair firing, and until now I could not even say that I felt it unfair. Journalists are supposed to be unbiased and neutral in every situation. But I am only human and I have an opinion and I feel my speech is anything but free at times.

I am astonished that writers and reporters are being coerced to give up their most valuable right. College thrives on opinionated people! Even more discouraging are the journalists that function as Resident Assistants. They are forced to keep their opinion to themselves as a means to hold on to their job! This is a country that is founded on freedom and the power to speak. Why then has speech never felt so restricted in our country?

With the huge appeal of online blogs and journals, it is apparent that millions of readers want to know their favorite reporter’s opinion on issues because online blogs have a greater circulation than all the major newspapers combined! Americans love to read get “inside scoop” on current events and an insider’s view on the news, but reporters are forced to be unbiased. Even in the privacy of their own home, where reporters and journalists willingly give up all privacy, they are still being reprimanded and even fired for voicing their opinions. Writers are losing the freedom in free speech.

If sensitive topics cannot be touched, how then does a journalist take back the freedom in speech?

Posted to the web by Shane Evans

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Laura Van De Pette

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