By Allen C. Brownfeld at Communities Digital News
WASHINGTON, January 2, 2015 — In many parts of the world today, the major threat to freedom of speech comes from government censorship. That has almost always been the case.
Criticism of government leaders and policies can land you in jail in China, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe and North Korea, and even in several countries we do not ordinarily view as authoritarian.
Even some Western European countries make it a serious offense to use language that might be offensive to different racial, ethnic or religious groups.
In our own country, the First Amendment guarantees free speech, short of shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater.
While government cannot put you in jail for objectionable speech, there are other ways to limit free speech. The major threat to free speech in America, particularly on college and university campuses, is from “political correctness.”
Recently, the president of Smith College sent out an e-mail in which she expressed support for those on campus who were protesting against the grand jury decisions in the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
“We are united in our insistence that all lives matter,” wrote President Kathleen McCartney. “We gather in vigil, we raise our voices in protest.”
This statement offended some students, who suggested that McCartney’s use of the word “all” was a direct refutation of the now-popular slogan, “Black lives matter.” Sophomore Cecilia Lim told the Daily Hampshire Gazette, “like she was invalidating the experience of black lives.” McCartney quickly apologized...