Free to Offend—For Now

Some words about words: The more words we classify as fighting words, the less able we are to fight for liberty with nothing but words. When liberty itself incites violence, when saying the word elicits hatred, when marching, peacefully, in defense of the word disturbs the peace—as it did when a King petitioned his president for redress; as it will wherever the unalienable is unattainable—when we erode the First Amendment, we elevate the Second Amendment as the principal means of expression. Were we to repeal both amendments, we would have peace without justice or—“No Justice, No Peace.” America’s colleges and universities seem to have neither, as they expand the zone of safety by further narrowing the limits of speech; as they save a place for every student by denying space to speakers whose words may offend the opposition, oppose the oppressive, and overwhelm the overly sensitive. If one school intends to be true to the words of its greatest alumnus—by being true to what America said on paper—let that school be Boston University.

BU plans to create “two committees to review and possibly revise the University’s protocols protecting speech.”

The committees should replace the protocols, not revise them, until the rights of students at a private university match the rights of what every American has a right to do in public. Give students the truth on paper—in a compact by the people—whose size is sufficiently compact to fit in their pockets. Give every student a pocket-sized copy of the United States Constitution, because anything less than what that paper says is not worth all the words a university says on paper.

Let the committees meet to adjourn, instead of meeting to adjudicate, so they will not abridge the freedom of speech.

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