Dartmouth student: America must ‘fix free speech’ with censorship

Maggie Lit
The Claremont Independent

  • A Dartmouth student is suggesting we limit free speech protected under the First Amendment.
  • Zach Traynor claims restricting ‘hate speech’ in America would never progress to the censorship seen in other authoritarian regimes, such as China.
  • Traynor cites other Democracies that restrict speech and suggests that America learn from these countries.
  • An Ivy League student says that America “has gone too far in allowing people to say whatever they want,” and asserts that the country needs to censor free speech.

    In an editorial in The Dartmouth titled “ Fixing Free Speech,” Traynor claims the extent in which the First Amendment protects American’s right to express their views and ideas is “distasteful.”

    “[T]his country has gone too far in allowing people to say whatever they want, and should curtail speech that is obviously harmful to society, such as hate speech."   

    “[T]his country has gone too far in allowing people to say whatever they want, and should curtail speech that is obviously harmful to society, such as hate speech,” writes Traynor. “This kind of speech, despite being clearly distasteful, has long been upheld as legal in America because of the First Amendment.”

    Traynor claims that censoring speech in America would never progress to the degree of authoritarian regimes such as China because of cultural norms and social media presence.

    “[G]iven America’s deeply-held cultural norms and the power of the Internet and social media, such a scenario is highly unlikely,” writes Traynor. “We need only small but significant change to the freedom of speech in this country: namely, the prohibition of unambiguously destructive, hateful speech.”

    Traynor goes on to cite examples of other democracies that do not legally protect certain kinds of speech, and suggests Americans can learn from them.

    “South Africa outlaws ‘advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion’ and war propaganda,” writes Traynor. “Many European countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand, have similar laws regarding racist speech.”

    He continues to ask readers how America can justify allowing speech that other democracies “have wisely deemed to be against their modern values?”

    “A line can be drawn and hate speech can be defined through the democratic process,” he writes. “Many other developed and democratic nations have passed laws and instituted legal mechanisms that are quite simple in nature.”

    “America should do the same: hate speech is not acceptable and should not be legally protected.”

    However, Traynor’s proposition did not settle well with readers who voiced their concerns about censoring speech through comments posted below the article.

    “Mr. Traynor, your views are repulsive, and I am ashamed of you for propagating them. There are no ‘sensible restrictions on free speech,’ and whoever thinks that stifling speech eliminates hatred, anger, and violence, is plainly wrong. The answer to hate speech is more speech, not less.”

    Another comment read, “You don't want to be the guy constantly defending their actions with the First Amendment, but you DEFINITELY don't want to be they [sic] guy championing censorship.”

    Traynor did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment in time for publishing.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @MaggieLitCRO





    Maggie Lit

    The Claremont Independent

    The Claremont Independent

    The Claremont Independent is an independent journal of campus affairs and political thought serving the colleges of the Claremont Consortium. The magazine receives no funding from any of the colleges and is distributed free of charge on campus. All costs of production are covered by the generous support of private foundations and individuals. The Claremont Independent is dedicated to using journalism and reasoned discourse to advance its ongoing mission of Upholding Truth and Excellence at the Claremont Colleges.

    The Claremont Independent is affiliated with Campus Reform through the Leadership Institute's Campus Leadership Program. Its articles are republished on Campus Reform with permission from the paper. 

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