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Word Count: 600
Racism sexism and homophobia is growing on college campuses around the country In response many universities have adopted policies that address bigotry by placing restrictions on speech The alternative to such restrictions many administrators argue is to allow bigots to run rampant and to subject their targets to a loss of equal educational opportunity The power of a university to eliminate bias on campus ultimately depends not on its ability to punish a racist speaker but instead on the depth of its commitment to the principles of equality and education Many universities under pressure to respond to the concerns of those who are the objects of hate have adopted codes or policies prohibiting speech that offends any group based on race gender ethnicity religion or sexual orientation Thats the wrong response well-meaning or not The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects speech no matter how offensive its content Speech codes adopted by government financed state colleges and universities amount to government censorship in violation of the Constitution And the ACLU believes that all campuses should adhere to First Amendment principles because academic freedom is a bedrock of education in a free society No social institution is better suited to fight bigotry than the university It can do so in its courses and perhaps most importantly through the way it conducts itself as a community Were not talking about choosing between the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment Were talking about choosing between regulating speech and regulating action Murder is illegal Talking about it isnt Freedom of thought and expression is particularly important on the college campuses The educational forum is where individuals come together to participate in a process of shared inquiry and where the success of that endeavor depends on an atmosphere of openness intellectual honesty and tolerance for the ideas and opinions of others even when hateful or offensive Compromising free speech ultimately threatens the rights of minorities
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