By Thomas K. Lindsay
On January 31, the Texas Senate’s State Affairs Committee will travel to Texas State University in San Marcos to hold a hearing to “ascertain any restrictions on Freedom of Speech rights that Texas students face in expressing their views on campus.” This coming event did not occur in a vacuum. Over the past few years, a debate has been raging nationwide over the status of free speech and debate at our public colleges and universities. While all sides agree that higher learning requires free discussion, at the same time, a concern has arisen over whether “hate speech” enjoys the same First Amendment protections as other forms of speech.
The stakes involved in this debate extend far beyond our campuses. Nothing less than the integrity of the American experiment in self-government is at stake. Why?
American democracy rests on two principled pillars: equality and individual liberty. However, these two principles can sometimes be in tension with each other. President Thomas Jefferson summed up this tension in his First Inaugural Address in 1801: “[T]hough the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable. . . [because] the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”
How does American democracy look to ensure that the will of the majority is reasonable and not violating minority rights? CONTINUE READING HERE