Speaking Honestly Without Injury
Free speech in social media conversations
Published: Thursday, May 17, 2012
Updated: Thursday, May 17, 2012 11:05
Students gathered in the Williman Room on Tuesday in attendance of the quarterly Difficult Dialogues conversation where the fine line between free speech and expressions of hatred in social media was discussed.
In an event co-sponsored by the women’s and gender studies department and the LGBTQ Allies network, Marina Hsieh from the Santa Clara Law School and Brian Buckley of the philosophy department kicked off the discussion by each giving a short lecture on the topic of free speech from the perspective of their academic field.
“We normally believe that the marketplace of ideas is made better and stronger by letting a lot of people say whatever they think, including things that aren’t true,” said Hsieh, while explaining the legal parameters of free speech.
According to Hsieh, speech can turn into an act of aggression. Determining if certain types of speech should be allowed comes down to the motive behind the word and how the intended audience perceives it.
Buckley reflected upon the aspirational concept of dialogue, what he defined to be an interaction between at least two people with the use of certain words as vehicles of thought. He expressed to students that disagreeing with others is okay as long as one can state their opinion width a respectful disposition.
“I don’t think that free speech means that moral lines are allowed to be crossed, and I think hate speech is one of those instances,” said Sonia Ibrahimkhail, a freshman communications major.
Difficult Dialogues began four years ago and has since been a quarterly program coordinated by the Center for Student Leadership and the Office for Multicultural Learning that invites students, faculty and staff to engage in current controversial topics.
Participants agreed that electronic communication requires a moral responsibility of expressing oneself in a public forum. This general consensus was a welcomed outcome by Mary Ho, program director of the Office for Multicultural Learning.
“I enjoyed the Difficult Dialogue because it challenged students to think and dialogue about having authentic conversation in the social networking and digital age,” said Ho.
Contact Elizabeth Ambriz-Mendez at firstname.lastname@example.org or (408) 554-4849.