Derek Bok Protecting Freedom Of Speech Analysis

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Where to Draw the Line The First Amendment of the U.S. constitution boldly states that “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.” As members of society, we witness this privilege utilized in both positive and negative ways through our daily lives. But, what happens when this liberty is abused and the emotions of certain groups are damaged in response to this “freedom?” Through his essay, “Protecting Freedom of Expression at Harvard,” scholar and former president of Harvard University, Derek Bok, expresses his firm claim that “Hanging a Confederate flag in public view or displaying a swastika in response is insensitive and unwise because any satisfaction it gives students is far outweighed by the discomfort it causes…show more content…
Through his use of warrants, Bok asserts many assumptions through which his claim is drawn. Believing that most people will sympathize with the affronted students, Bok’s claim in and of it self is an assumption as he states, “I am sure that the vast majority of Harvard students believe that hanging a Confederate flag in public view is insensitive and unwise” (118). Bok must rely on the idea that the common view of students is that of disapproval towards the offending images. Correspondingly, Bok must justify the reasoning behind his claim that prohibiting something we feel emotional towards is not acceptable. He additionally uses backing to support this warrant by creating the idea that “Any satisfaction it gives to the students who display these symbols is far outweighed by the discomfort it causes to many others” (118). However, a counterargument, or rebuttal, is also provided in response to this warrant. Bok states that “[The students] must have known they would upset many fellow students and ignore the decent regard for the feeling of other so essential to building and preserving a strong and harmonious community” (118). Bok provides us with a counter way of thinking. We now, as a result of believing the intentions of the students were to upset others, are drawn to side against them and their rights to display these
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