Summer Series: Free Speech

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In order to fulfill our mission of establishing profound and productive dialogues between young people of all political stripes, E Pluribus is proud to launch our Summer Series, honing in on one of the most contentious topics of our generation: free speech.


High-profile protests at Yale, Berkeley, Middlebury, and dozens of other college campuses have escalated the issue between people like Fareed Zakaria who advocate that controversial ideas challenge and benefit the community, and those, such as a group of Berkeley faculty, that argue that in some circumstances speakers should be banned to protect the safety of students. Another camp, led by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, does not comment on whether controversial ideas are beneficial, but rather whether people should have the right to speak freely wherever they want in the first place. Where the line can be drawn between acceptable speech and banned speech on college campuses is both politicized and constitutionalized; the degree to which we allow speech that we do not agree with is a fundamental element that defines what we stand for as a democratic nation.


Yet reasonable answers to the question are hard to find due to the sensationalized nature of the topic; moreover, the voices of college students are almost always drowned out by established journalists and intellectuals, even though the college student perspective should be very relevant to the debate. A hard-hitting dialogue between young people with opposing beliefs is needed if we want to arrive at strong solutions.


From Thursday, July 27th, through Sunday, August 27th, E Pluribus will publish essays by young people across the world on the following topics related to free speech: When, if ever, is hate speech no longer free speech? Should colleges ever ban controversial figures from speaking on their campuses? Are political correctness and free speech mutually exclusive? Are rising rates of hate crimes a result of free speech? Are disruptive protests better or worse than non-disruptive protests?  Is free speech still an essential American ideal? In addition to the topic of free speech on college campuses, we also hope to address how free speech relates to other areas, such as national security and Wikileaks, journalistic ethics, and Internet privacy. Our writers will directly engage with essays written by other E Pluribus contributors, creating a meaningful conversation about the issues in order to identify points of contention and to find common ground.


During the Summer Series, writers are free to write about any of these topics as many times as they would like. As always, we still welcome posts about any topics our writers desire, even if they do not fit within the Free Speech theme. E Pluribus will conclude the Free Speech Summer Series with a final editorial on Sunday, August 27th before kicking off our next Series. Make sure to send in your Free Speech essays before then!


If you would like to publish a piece for the Summer Series, please email a one-sentence description of what you plan to write (topic and gist of the argument) to by July 31st!