Do we still believe in a robust freedom of speech?

(CNN) — America used to be a place where we said, "Give me liberty or give me death." We live by a credo that "freedom isn't free," and that our Constitution is worth dying for. How inspirational it is to believe that this is the wind of thought that blows underneath the Eagle's wings.

Unfortunately, whenever that wind becomes just a little too gusty for comfort, we find out just how little relationship our poetic credo has to our collective guts.

The latest example: Nine seconds of video of a number of boys singing an offensive song. Immediately, the University of Oklahoma expelled two of the boys for their speech. Forget whether you like the speech or not. That is not relevant. These boys got kicked out of a public school for singing a song, on their own time, in a privately rented bus, simply because the government didn't like the content of their song. (source)

While in a my college years, a black woman I knew said she opposed trying to force racists back into their shells and shutting them up because she wanted to know where people stood. She actually felt safer when the racists and people with views in opposition to hers on issues affecting her operated out in the open.

Today, it seems we aren't satisfied with avoiding expressions we dislike, we actually want to suppress their expression.

Are we on the right track?

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 Actually, in both cases the perps wer motivated to carry out revenge against members of an ethnic group each considered to be oppressors of "their" people.

When an Arab immigrant, acting alone attacked the ticket counter of an Israeli airline, it was "clearly" an act of terrorism.

When the Jewish American and his accomplices were foiled in their planning and preparation for for attacks on 50 mosques, it was a "hate crime"

I say no, I'm also opposed to hate speech. The main problem with hate speech is that even if a lot of people use the freedom of speech to attack certain groups of people, hate speech may end up censoring someone that actually has a point. What one person views as hate speech and what another person views as hate speech may be different. I like my freedom of speech, I would hate if someone took it away from me and so I wouldn't try to take it away from someone else. The freedom of speech is something that I feel should remain absolute. 

 Unseen, 

  The government did not shutdown the SAE fraternity. the SAE organization shutdown the UK chapter. 

  I agree that we are loosing our freedom of speech, the SAE case is not a good example. Better examples exist in state adotion of corporate sponsored laws that prohibit public protests against private interests int the name of "public safety".

  Then there are state "gag" laws written by shadowy corporate "councils", introduced and often passed by legislative members of those councils, that effective outlaw whistle blowers. and citizen journalists.

  ON example is the Ag-Gag law introduced in 12 states in 2013

Actually, the university (a public institution) President ALSO banned them and said they won't be on campus again while HE is in control.

And I was asking whether we, meaning THE PUBLIC, still believe in a robust freedom of speech. 

The university would within their right to ban the SAE chapter.  The news articles I read said the University was investigating the fraternity. The uni's right comes from the fact that the frat chapter is officially approved by the university to use the school's name. This is true if the school is a private one or a public one. The approval s contingent on a code of ethics. 

 A long time ago, a friend of mine showed me that the best way to cut through the hype was to collect the propaganda from both sides and toss out the points they agree on..

  As to the PUBLIC it seems to me that what most consider free speech isn't

 More often than not we only free to speak that which confirms the biases of the few.

No we most certainly aren't on the right track. France...one of the bastions of freedom sent a politician to jail for making a racist comment. As repugnant and disgraceful as that is, the person should pay a social and political price...not jail time. Her case is not the same as that of Chelsea fans from the UK on the Paris metro who sung racists chants and pushed a black man off the train because he was black. They face a three year prison sentence and I have little sympathy for them.

If I was a lecturer at many UK, US, Canadian and Scandanavian liberal arts colleges (less so in continental ones but they exists) and they read me here defending the right of a politician to say stupid outrageous nasty but non crime perpetuating statements (just as I defend Charlie Hebdo) I could easily be fired.

Like you, I have no sympathy for hate-speakers, but it is their right to speak and our right to know what hideous muck is in their minds so that we can respond to them.

Even in the US you can be fired pretty much at will with a few reasonable exceptions, and espousing unpopular or outrageous beliefs could be a reason for such a dismissal. The government has an obligation to defend freedom of speech, the private sector does not.

Indeed...there are serious social and political costs to being a race hater...but losing an academic position simply by defending openness in academic research? To be fired out the back door from a university for simply saying that someone has the right to convey rational arguments (without endorsing hate speech or clearly disagreeing with it) is utter lunacy. It would be interesting to know how many over the top hyper-progressive universities are private vs. public there are.

A student at Reed College was barred from class discussion for expressing doubts about college rape stats accuracy and the existence of a college "rape culture.' (read article here)

I assume this is in a high school

That could be viewed as a kind of bullying committed by the teacher. She's actually trying to force an insincere apology out of the student, as if that accomplishes any sort of valid pedagogical objective. The teacher is simply exercising her power of authority in a corrupt manner.

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