Civility and It's Discontents Essay

1057 Words Mar 16th, 2007 5 Pages
The Paradox of Free Speech As American people, we know that we are entitled to certain rights according to the constitution; one of which is freedom of speech. In Civility and Its Discontents, Leslie Epstein explores the limits and contradictions of this much cherished right when considering whether he would expel a student who wrote racial slurs in the dorm rooms of a University if it was up to him. He discusses this situation and topics that stem from it in an analytical yet somewhat emotionally involved tone and makes the reader reflect on the wide range of information presented about the issues of political correctness, freedom of speech, expulsion, and racism. In the beginning of the essay, Epstein presents the "moral puzzle" …show more content…
Epstein explores this in his essay. If every person's statement is of equal value in the world, and no opinion carries more weight than another (due to free speech) then "truth becomes simply an opinion" (464) and "knowledge is the triumph of one ideology over another."
Freedom of speech is a lot more binding than people think because it keeps people from thoroughly discussing and debating issues since there is no need considering that everyone has their opinion so what other people say doesn't matter. Like Epstein says "I would have no trouble allowing anyone on campus who wished to argue that homosexuality was contrary to nature , that blacks were intellectually inferior to whites…such visitations are far different than hurled epithets"(461).
Epstein also explores the fact that if we try to censor things like controversial topics, it would be a sort of "thought control" (464). However, "the trouble is, not censoring [these things] is a kind of thought control as well" (464). So, in a way, we can't really win. Another thing Epstein discusses is the well known idea of political correctness, especially political correctness in universities. Epstein says that "universities exist not to inculcate manners or teach propriety but to foster inquiry…to search for the truth" (461). In that case, could being PC be considered childish? It is not university's purpose to make sure everyone is happy or everyone's viewpoints are considered at all times. Truly, that's not

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