In Response to: Limits to Free Speech

I am not a legal scholar or a lawyer, and I acknowledge that I made errors in my above statement. I am sorry for the errors.

I support the First Amendment. I would never recommend that someone be prosecuted for exercising their First Amendment rights. It does not follow that we should then ignore or encourage speech when it is racist, derogatory, and harmful. I believe that leaders, both political and within an institution such as Princeton, should have the moral fortitude to stand up and say that some speech is not welcome. That does not mean that the speakers are arrested, or fired, or expelled. To me it means that we acknowledge that speech is complicated, and that there is a line, and maybe we shouldn't promote speakers when they cross that line.

At Princeton I experienced some very racist, derogatory remarks by a classmate (not directed at me). I am so grateful that the preceptor said that those remarks were not welcome. The student did not get a lower grade, or get expelled (nor do I believe he should have been), but I am very grateful that the person in authority did not just accept racist remarks as one of the consequences of free speech. Silence in such a situation is tantamount to acceptance and promotion.

SPLC president Richard Cohen just gave a testimony on this issue to the Senate. It's worth thinking about:

Marie Basile McDaniel ’01
New Haven, Conn.