On Wednesday, the LBCC library was opened up to a discussion on freedom of expression. The Civil Discourse Club, working with the library staff, brought a panel of experts to talk with students and community members about the changing perceptions of what sort of expression should be allowed on our college campuses.
The panel included: LBCC instructors Sandra Shinkle and Keith Tierney, LB librarian Richenda Hawkins, and ACLU of Oregon Board Member Stuart Kaplan.
According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), most people in western democracies think of the freedom of expression as a basic human right. FIRE also thinks this right is in danger- not from an outside threat, but from within.
FIRE believes the right to freedom OF speech is being depleted by those who would seek freedom FROM speech. Meaning people who don’t want to hear another side of an issue are limiting the freedom of expression of their opposition.
At Lewis and Clark College earlier this year, Christian Sommers, an outspoken critic of the feminist movement was “de-platformed,” a term that means to disrupt a speaker until they are ousted off the stage. Instances such as this have raised fears from many First Amendment proponents that if constructive debate cannot be held on college campuses, then students learning and growth is being limited.
The mission of the event held by The Civil Discourse Club is to keep controversial topics such as the freedom of expression from turning into uncivil arguments.
“I think it’s just wonderful that you have a civil discourse club, I think that’s a great idea. I wish we had something like that at Lewis and Clark. It would be great to get student input when we wrestle with these issues,” said Kaplan.