Free speech without fences:

Illustration by Taylor Rangel.

Staff Editorial:

Have you ever heard of the First Amendment? That’s the one that leads people to say “I can say what I want, wherever I want. I have the freedom of speech!” It’s the “…wherever I want” part that has been the subject of debate for many years.

In years past, the political climate has not been so hostile, but in recent years, political views have become more polarized and less tolerant of opposing views. As a result, more people are exercising their right to protest and express their opinions.  With more people showing up to oppose a political rally or agenda, many business and educational institutions have turned to the policy of “free speech zones.”

In theory, these free speech zones, also referred to as protest zones or First Amendment zones, a protestor has the opportunity to fully express his or her opinion without fear of retaliation or retribution. In practice, these zones don’t work so well.

Often times these zones aren’t in full view of the public. Event organizers and schools typically place these zones around a corner or in a basement to separate those who support the event and those who oppose.

This has to stop.

While some could argue that the government has the right to regulate the time, place and manner of protesting but not content, we, the Ranger staff, believe that all public spaces should be considered free speech zones. We believe it’s wrong to relegate protesters to basements and back alleys. No one should be pushed to the side for wanting to speak their opinion.

We feel the founders of this nation desired for civil discourse at all times to keep each other in check and to share valuable perspectives that add to our collective identity.

The USA is a country made up almost entirely of immigrants at some level. Everyone who lives here, with the exception of the indigenous peoples, are part of families that were transplanted here at some point in the past. With so many people representing so many backgrounds, we are always going to have differences of opinions, but that’s exactly what makes this nation so great. Having the ability to speak freely is what makes this nation even greater.

Embrace diversity.

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