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Essay: Lawrence's On Racist Speech and Bok's Protecting Freedom of Expression on Campus

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  • Subject area(s): Literature essays
  • Reading time: 3 minutes
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  • Published: 2 October 2015*
  • File format: Text
  • Words: 825 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 4 (approx)

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Is there a place in our world where racism can’t be found? If not, how to deal with this kind of issue? Why it’s hard for many people in our society cant live with each other? These questions cannot be answered easily. Actually, ‘Human instinct’ is the main problem of this case. Many great people in world history tried to solve this case such as Martin Luther King, and his famous quote ‘We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.’
There are two articles were written by two authors, the first article is ‘On racist speech’ by professor Lawrence and the second was by the past president of Harvard University, Derek Bok ‘Protecting Freedom of Expression on the campus’ both articles were in the same page, in other words, both articles were about the case of hate speech, with some difference in several things. Before showing the similarities and comparing between the two articles, its important to understand the general idea of ‘hate speech’, its speech that attacks a person or a group of people on the basis of many things such as, religion, race, or gender.
‘On racist speech’ In summarizing this article, Lawrence argues that ‘Hate speech’ is not acceptable in United States, also he believes that ‘racist speech’ should not be protected by the First Amendment also, he believes it need to be regulated in the same time, especially on college campuses. Moreover, In his article he gives many reasons why, but there are three main reasons that he provided, which are, ‘Brown vs. the Board of Education, one of the most important cases about “equal protection” under the law in United state of American history.
Moreover the case of Brown shows us how “racist speech” can harm the minds and hearts of African Americans. Secondly, ignore ‘fighting words’ exception principle to first amendment and finally, the idea of racist speech at ‘home.’ Furthermore, the racial insulates according to Lawrence doesn’t make any good progress, and it not used to uncover the truth, but to injure. He tries to explain in his article that why posters, symbols, and signs can truly be offensive to a racial minority. Furthermore, he personally hopes that colleges should do their part to counter the problem of ‘racist speech” or it might get bigger day after day.
In the other hand, Bok agrees with Lawrence on many different points about limitations of “racist speech”. In ‘Protecting Freedom of Expression on the campus’ article, Bok started his article by introducing his problem with an event that happened at Harvard University, when two students hung ‘Confederate’ flags and ‘Swastikas’ in public’s view. That sight was the reason that upset many people in the community. The main subject in Bok’s argument is that ‘the display of swastikas or Confederate flags clearly falls within the protection of the free speech clause of the First Amendment’ and that what made Bok regrets that many students involved behaved in this manner. He concludes in his argument that instead of enforcing codes, it would be much better to ignore such communications or at least to speak with them to solve the problem.
After re-reading the both summaries, it’s easy to figure out the similarities and the difference between the two articles. Authors mentioned many topics such as, the problems universities have with maintaining free speech, the limitations of “racist speech, ‘the damage the caused by racial speech, to the minds and hearts of African Americans, how public form plays an important role in their cases, finally how both authors Lawrence and Bok shared their personal emotions in their articles.
In justifying to what Lawrence and Bok said in their articles, both authors were right in many different points such as, the limitations of racist speech, how campuses are responsible to do their part by dealing with their own students, and the idea of ignoring that mentioned in the two articles might be the best way to take control of the problem. In other words, lets say there are a film director uploaded short film in social network, and his intent is just to offense specific group of people, ignoring would be the best solution of this problem, because soon or latter there will be no interest toward them. This is an example of ‘Hate speech’ and how it can target many people because of their religion, race, or nationality, or it could by their gender, ages, or sexual orientation.
Finally and honestly, after several re-readings, both articles were vague and confusing to the reader, the writers used many different ways to explain their points, feelings, and their examples. Moreover, both articles were related to Jacoby’s article ‘A first Amendment Junkie’ on the point of ‘zigs and zags.’ Of course not because they are careless or befuddle, it might be that’s their own ways to give a briefed and strong case in their articles.

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