The Voice

Are there sacrifices for free speech? White nationalist Richard Spencer speaks at Florida University

~The Voice, Contributing Writer

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      Most Americans have tremendous pride sharing all of the freedoms they have as United States citizens. One of these freedoms, as outlined in the First Amendment, is the freedom of speech. Is the freedom of speech something that is really as glorious and sparkly as people claim? Or are there heavy burdens and negative outcomes that come with the whole freedom package? These are questions that many people asked as white supremacist Richard Spencer shared his hatred with Florida University students.

     Spencer tried to rent the campus’s Phillips Center for the Performing Arts for $10,000, but Florida University declined. They later accepted on the foundation of freedom of speech. The state governor thought that this speech could cause a situation that would threaten Florida’s citizens and led him to declare a state of emergency(DeutscheWelle). Spencer, who was also present in the Charlottesville protest with other neo-nazis, reminded us of what can happen when two opposing sides collide on the grounds of free speech.

     Although Spencer rented the public space for $10,000, Florida University was forced to spend half a million dollars on extra security.
If Spencer’s own event was causing the University and the state this much trouble just for sharing his opinion, then shouldn’t those costs be billed to him as part of the deal? Because of Spencer’s speech at Florida University and the Charlottesville protest, a lot of gray area has been uncovered on the grounds of free speech.

     Freedom has become a sticky subject and causes a lot of confusion. Most people will say that legally, Spencer had the right to use Florida University’s space. But if he caused a state of emergency to be declared, why did he still have the right to speak? If Spencer was perceived as threatening public safety then would this not be a reason to have the event canceled?

     A University is a place of work for professors, other staff and students. Why should it be acceptable to make a workplace potentially unsafe and threatening? The problem may lie in the ability for individuals to sue universities for not allowing them to speak. Individuals can accuse universities of denying them their first amendment rights, which has been happening recently at places like Ohio State (ABC news).

     While Spencer’s event was fairly “peaceful” at Florida, the Charlottesville protest was not. The heavy burden that America carries for loose laws on freedom of speech was displayed when a woman was murdered by a man who sympathized with neo-nazis as he drove into the crowd protesting the confederate statue of Robert E. Lee.

     We agree that people should have freedom of speech, but we think that it should be acknowledged that this freedom has a lot of gray area. There are many sacrifices that are tied to this freedom including Florida State University’s sacrifice: Half a million dollars for extra security to protect the lives of its students.

~The Voice

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Are there sacrifices for free speech? White nationalist Richard Spencer speaks at Florida University