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REMEMBERING THE FREE SPEECH MOVEMENT

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Freedom of speech has played a significant role in societies. It has also played a key historical role in the building of our communities. However, there are different ways in which people have taken the freedom of speech to the extreme, which is why we should ask ourselves why it is important.  The free speech movement was a college campus movement inspired by the fight for civil rights and, later on, the Vietnam war.

 

During the anti-communist sentiments of McCarthyism in the 1950s, public universities in California had implemented various regulations that limited the political events of university students. In the University of California, Berkeley, campus students engaging in on or off-campus political activities were banned from the university.

 

However, in the 1960s, students started shunning the old school ideas and started flouting the prohibitions. That was further triggered by the growing civil rights movements and the anti-Vietnam war protests. In 1964, the free speech movement began whereby students of the University of California Berkeley protested the ban on campus political activities. Several students joined and demanded their academic freedom and right to free speech.

 

The free speech movement would later spark a vast wave of student activism. In protest of the on-campus ban of political activities, a graduate student called Jack Weinberg was arrested. However, around 3000 students surrounded the police car he was held in to prevent it from moving for 36hours. That raised more attention in the media giving the free speech movement an excellent ground to start. Many students involved in the campaign ended up founding the International socialists, which resolved freedom of speech issues.

The Impact Of Freedom Of Speech On The World 

Freedom of speech has both positive and negative impacts on societies and the world at large. One of the positive impacts of freedom of speech is that citizens can question the government regarding their interests based on freedom of speech. Before freedom of speech, citizens didn’t have the voice to ask anything, and governments were not concerned with individual voices or personal opinions and beliefs.

 

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Freedom of speech allows society to progress and develop. According to Simon Dixon Davies, free speech is fundamental for change. It has been used historically to fight for change, and no human right would be achievable without freedom of speech.

 

However, freedom of speech is not only about your ability to speak but also the ability to listen to the views of others. That means you should be comfortable in a room with people with different perspectives, as otherwise, nothing will ever change.

 

A free society or world depends on the free exchange of ideas. Moreover, almost all ideas in human history can offend some people but what matters is that people can freely express themselves. Even higher education institutions such as universities should provide platforms for exchanging and criticizing ideas, including those deemed unpalatable by some.

Conclusion

Freedom of speech is necessary for our society as it enables people to fight for change. The free speech movement laid the historical foundation for free speech, one of the most precious human rights.

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