Monday, March 14, 2005

Free Speech? Don't Think So

People often seem confused about what exactly the right of “free speech” actually means. Many think that free speech means that you can say what you want without any consequence. In reality, it restrains government actions on speech at all levels of government (due to the Fourteenth Amendment). What you say can get you fired from your job among other unpleasant consequences. It sucks, but our society would not function very well if this was not the case.

So what about government employees? Are they allowed to say whatever they want? This is an mportant thing to think about when we look at the level of academic freedom at state colleges and whether or not a professor can be fired for what he says if it is terribly offensive. I do not know what the line is as far as that goes, but I do wonder where the free speech activists are when someone is losing his academic position because he said something deemed sexist or racist by the liberal elites.

Obviously, I am alluding to Ward Churchill’s remarks. However, it is now becoming more than a free speech issue as questions about lying and plagiarism are hurting the non-credentialed-tenured-professor's ability to remain at his job. I recommend reading the Volokh’s Conspiracy’s take on this issue.

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