Assaultive Speech and Academic Freedom: Literature Review
Celso Leonardo Moreno
University of Texas at El Paso
People reflect on times in high school, in college, or at a workplace when another student or co-worker said or wrote something just for the apparent purpose of insulting, hurting, frightening, silencing, or banning that someone. If that person has not personally experienced this kind of hateful speech, perhaps hearing it directed at others. Particularly of any hateful speech that was aimed to that person because his gender is being a man or woman, a member of some religious, ethnic, or racial group, gay or lesbian, or somehow outside the norms for dress, interests, body type, or language use.
Assaultive Speech and Academic Freedom
As time goes by the world evolves with its nature and so does the human race that has considered calling earth its home, unfortunately not many people can adapt or admit that all human race is the same. Human beings have been divided in all sorts of ways. Among the settings of these expressions of intolerance are college and university campuses, where bias incidents have occurred sporadically since the mid 1980's. Outrage, indignation and demands for change are the responses to these incidents understandably, given the lack of racial and social diversity among students, faculty and administrators on most campuses. Many universities, are under pressure, responding to the concerns of those who are the objects of hate, campuses have adopted codes or policies prohibiting speech that offends any group based on race gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or somehow outside the norms for dress, interests, body type, or language use. To better understand the differing views and standards concerning assaultive speech and academic freedom the following four questions will be answered: 1. What is assaultive speech and academic freedom and why is it an issue towards students in Universities? 2. How does discrimination to students, relate to assaultive speech and academic freedom? 3. What are some of the negative aspects and positive aspects of academic freedom? 4. What are the responses and strategies Universities are taking involving discrimination, based on assaultive speech? This literature review will focus on these four questions that will provide information and effectiveness about assaultive speech and academic freedom. What follows is a brief overview of the principles and the law shaping faculty and student claims to academic freedom and free speech in the college and university classroom. This paper will also address issues of so-called “political discrimination” in the judicial and legislative form, such as those asserted in the Academic Bill of Rights. What is assaultive speech and academic freedom and why is it an issue towards students in Universities?
Assaultive speech and academic freedom is a longstanding concept, it is both a professional standard and a legal definition. The professional standard of academic freedom is tied to custom and practice, and to the ideal environment for freedom of thought, inquiry and teaching. The legal definition is related to the professional definition but with its own framework and rules. It involves both elements of constitutional and contract law, and reflects an attempt to reconcile basic constitutional principles with prevailing views of academic freedom’s social and intellectual role in American life. Assaultive Speech is a well established tenet of constitutional law that not all speech is “protected speech.” As Alexander and Alexander remind us, “…the First Amendment rights of speech and expression were never intended to embrace all circumstances. Restrictions on the content of speech are permitted in certain circumstances.” (Alexander and Alexander 2012) The Alexander’s cite the following examples of traditional non-protected speech: true...
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