In the article “Feigning Free Speech on Campus” by Greg Lukianoff, the author argues that colleges are restricting free speech on campus using various examples from different schools to support his assertion. While the title of the article suggests the article is about all schools, the article provides examples mainly from private colleges, excluding all other school systems (elementary, secondary, public college) which is misleading to the reader and also implies an overgeneralization that all schools restrict free speech even though that is not what is being disputed in the article.
The reason that the article’s examples of restricting free speech come mainly from private schools is because as the author states “…private colleges are not state actors and therefore have more leeway to establish their own rules” which is exactly the point, while the author is arguing that mainly private schools are the institutions that restrict free speech, the author is ignoring the fact that private schools are the ones that are allowed to do just that, nullifying the argument.
Private colleges can decide what rules to enforce and how to run the school on its own terms because after all they are private schools, and when the student chooses to attend the school the student is agreeing to whatever is written in the school guidelines. If they don’t agree with the guidelines then the student doesn’t have to be there, so in actuality they’re not forcing the students to do anything they don’t agree with which is contrary to what the article is implying.
Although the author does provide two examples from public schools in the beginning of the article (such as not allowing student protests and not allowing political signs on dorm rooms) which is beneficial to the article because it offers support from more than one school system, the examples aren’t discussed, they’re just stated, which lessens the persuasion. This can also be seen in the other examples about private schools that are given in the article. While the author states that “The speech codes are at times intended to enforce civility, but they often backfire, suppressing free expression instead of allowing for open debate of controversial issues.” The examples provided of this such as allowing a democrat to be elected as an officer of the college of republicans doesn’t hold much weight or importance. In continuation, what the article provides as evidence of hindering free speech is not allowing students to protest or not wear shirts that state one’s beliefs however, all of these examples among the others presented in the article are not actions that as the above quote says “allow for open debate of controversial issues” since when people protest they are not having discussions with those they’re protesting against, they’re just holding up signs or decreeing what they want/believe in and that is not the same thing as going up to a person and saying “this is what I believe in, what do you have to say about that?” Therefore, the presented evidence doesn’t do an adequate job in convincing the reader that the points in the article are valid.
The author also states that “colleges have promulgated speech codes that are not only absurd in their results but also detrimental to the ideals of free inquiry” however, all the examples that are given are not carried out further to explain how it’s absurd or detrimental to the ideals of free inquiry, and ultimately why the readers should care. Furthermore, if there were alterations or no speech codes in schools as the article is leaning towards, then students would be allowed to verbally harass others claiming it’s free speech and not be punished, this alone shows the necessity of speech codes for enforcing civility. Just as the oaths mentioned in the article that the Harvard students have to sign help promote kindness which goes back into not harassing someone or for example not yelling one’s beliefs into someone’s face simply because they can. In conclusion, while the author provides plenty of examples to support his argument which is a stronger aspect of the article, the effectiveness of the examples is diminished because