Does hate speech differ from free speech? The hot topic was written across University of Redlands’ Armacost library’s first floor whiteboard this past week asking students to engage anonymously with one another through written word. This question was not randomly chosen, but was picked to prepare students for the highly anticipated arrival of KPCC public radio at the U of R for a live forum to discuss free speech versus hate speech on college campuses today.
The University of Redlands discussion whiteboard in the Armacost library provides a platform for students to anonymously engage in discourse often surrounding politicized topics of the time. The following quotes are direct responses to the whiteboard question “(How) Does hate speech differ from free speech?”
A student definitively states that “both should be protected by the constitution.”
While another student engages in the discussion responding, “but hate speech is not inherently harmless or void of criticism/disagreement simply because it is protected.”
One student agrees with this point and responds with an Ilana Glazer of“Broad City” inspired, “yas.”
“What is hate speech if it’s someone’s opinion?”
“Hate speech ≠ harmful/dangerous speech,” one student shares.
“Really? Perhaps hate hasn’t caused violence in 1930s Europe, etc” points out another student.
“I speak, you speak, we all speak,” a student poetically describes.
One student’s simple statement, “hate speech is violence” incites a number of responses.
“If hate speech is violence, is protest speech violence too?” a student asks.
“All speech is free until it becomes physically dangerous (e.g. shouting ‘fire’ in a crowd, some cases of cyberbullying),” responds another.
“Hate speech is like pins and needles I dream of every night.”
“Hate speech is based on emotion and anger from stereotypes. Free speech is the freedom to say whatever you want.”
“Free speech shouldn’t be degrading to others,” a shares one student.
“Why not?” questions another student.
The comparison of freedom of speech with hate speech is a highly controversial and politicized topic that is discussed on university campuses nationwide. The discourse on the library’s whiteboard offers a glimpse into what the students of the University of Redlands are thinking, as did KPCC’s forum on Thursday night. Stay tuned for a more thorough look inside the campus community’s discussion on free speech and hate speech in an upcoming article covering Thursday’s panel.