Freedom of speech is amongst the major human freedoms, provided by the Constitution of the United States. Nevertheless, with the existing diversity policy, the spread of humanism, and the recognition of racism, discrimination and prejudice and social issues to be eradicated, it is possible to assume that public speaking should be restricted in the institutions, which contribute to the cognitive and moral development of individuals and whose permissive attitude towards the controversial organizations might thus result in the deterioration of their reputation because of the development of distorted social rules in the campus members (Foner, 1989). The present paper is designed to discuss the appropriateness of Ku Klux Klan’s or another controversial organization’s participation in campus life.
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The first argument in favor of the removal of all restrictions of controversial organization’s speech in a college is the aforementioned freedom of expression. Individuals are entitled to deliver information about their views to the public, and nobody could be deprived of such opportunity (Jones, 1998). This juridical logic can, however, be defeated by the statement that a citizen’s freedom end at the beginning of the freedom of another person (Foner, 1989; Watson, 1965). This means the person is free to discuss non-abusive views which do not offend the dignity of another person or social group. In this sense, the Ku Klux Klan as well as several other controversial formations, has been implementing particularly aggressive racist policy (Dray, 2002) and allegedly involved in several hate crimes, so minority students are likely to feel humiliated only by the official presence of such organization on the college territory. Radical political organizations are also unsafe, due to their scandalous reputations and the possible attempts to establish a terror regime or terror atmosphere in the country.
This argument is often refuted by the citizens with more libertarian views, who put forth the statement that such public speeches are not aimed at abusing students’ freedom but only at the provision of clear and precise alternative information about international and domestic affairs and distinct interpretation of this information. On the other hand, it needs to be noted that media biases (or biases in delivering information) is a tendency, attributed mainly to such controversial organizations (Dray, 2002; Jones, 1998), which often distort or fabricate facts or intentionally manipulate them, partially hiding the truth. As a result, colleges and other institutions of higher education lose their reputations as temples of valid and relevant knowledge and turn into media arenas. Because college years constitute the formative stage of human moral development, it is important to safeguard students from radical favoritism or other controversial views.
Finally, it is also important to take into consideration the fact that with the arrival of leaders of controversial organizations to speak from the tribunes in college campuses the education institution turns into the place of political games and racial (or other social) troubles: “As a result, everything from pie throwing to disrupting speeches to attacks on speakers has become commonplace” (Stillwell, 2006). It is often stated, however, that such disarray and clash of political interests within the audience is to some extent useful, as it allows studying the practice of politics and radical movements (Jones, 1998), but the participation of the Ku Klux Klan in the internal dynamics of higher education institutions inevitably results in the interruption of the educational process.
To sum up, the present paper has demonstrated that the official presence of controversial formations like the Ku Klux Klan on college campuses is highly undesirable, despite the freedom of speech and other benefits from learning an alternative standpoint, as it negatively influences the image of the education institution and brings disarray and dissension to the college environment.
- Dray, Philip. At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America, New York: Random House, 2002.Foner, E. America’s Unfinished Revolution. New York: Harper Perennial, 1989.
- Jones, E. “Race Relations on Campus”. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, 18 (1998): 146-147.
- Stillwell, C. “Mob Rule on College Campuses”. Web.
- Watson, J. “The Place of Controversy on the Campus: The Relation between Open Discussion and the Quality of Education”. The journal of Higher Education, 36 (1965): 18-24.