Hate Speech Codes: Ineffective and Unconstitutional
Even though there has been a large increase in the number of hate speech codes in colleges and universities, the increase in the amount of hate speech incidents across the nation shows that these guidelines are ineffective. While hate speech codes attempt to create a safer more politically correct environment on college campuses by establishing principles and guidelines for students to follow, they are inherently ineffective because they are only attempting to cover up hate speech and are not addressing the root of the problem-hate. Also, they contradict the First Amendment of the United States constitution which entitles everyone to freedom of speech. Hate speech codes are merely guidelines and principles. In order to make a real difference in the atmosphere of today's increasingly multicultural college campuses, college administrators and student leaders must work together to combat ignorance and create a respectful more tolerant environment by changing the mindset of students. Hate speech refers to any expression that intends to degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudicial action against a group of people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or disability(wikipedia) . Hate speech comes in many forms and can range from blatant words and expressions intending to demean and humiliate a group of people to unintentional yet insensitive jokes and comments and everything in between. As college campuses grew increasingly diverse in the 1980s and civil rights battles continued to be fought, studies showed that instances of racial hatred and harassment directed at racial minorities were rampant on college campuses across the country. In response, many public colleges and universities under pressure to respond to these concerns, immediately adopted policies that banned such expressions that offended any group based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. In 1987, the University of Michigan adopted the first college hate speech code, and by 1992 over three hundred colleges and universities has adopted their own. Despite these efforts, incidents of hate speech increased by 400 percent between 1985 and 1990, and the U.S. Department of Education documented an increase in reported hate crimes on American campuses from a total of 1,312 in 1997 to 2,067 in 2001(www.adl.org). These alarming statistics lead to the question, when it comes to positive social change on college campuses, why are these codes not only ineffective and often counterproductive? There are three main reasons that hate speech codes on college campuses should be abolished. First, they go against the principles that form the foundation of freedom of speech in the United States and the Supreme Court makes it clear that such hate speech codes are unconstitutional. Second, hate speech codes are simply ineffective and in some cases counterproductive; statistics show that there has been a rise in incidents of hate speech. Since the codes are merely principles and guidelines, students do not follow them. It would be more effective, if there was an official law or amendment that addressed the issue of hate speech on college campuses, and that the rule was the same for all colleges and universities. Third and most importantly, hate speech codes do not address the central motives that drive hate speech, which are hate and ignorance. If campus hate speech codes have done anything significant in the past two decades, they have ignited a movement to protect freedom of speech as a constitutional right. First amendment advocates like the American Civil Liberties Union are strongly against colleges imposing regulations on people's speech. The first amendment to the United States Constitution is supposed to protect freedom of speech, no matter how offensive the speech is. "Speech that deeply offends our morality or is hostile to our way of life warrants the...
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