“…believing that “we can only exercise our right to free speech insofar as we feel safe and respected in doing so?” Of course not—it’s when we feel unsafe and disrespected that the exercise of free speech is most effective, and even obligatory. Those who would only speak out when comfortable do not merit the privilege.”, Jon Oelrich, Letters to the Editor: Wall Street Journal

LETTERS

Sept. 11, 2014 3:59 p.m. ET

How embarrassing for the students, faculty and staff of the University of California to have a leader with the craven outlook of Nicholas Dirks. Can we even imagine Tom Paine, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Cesar Chavez or Martin Luther King Jr. believing that “we can only exercise our right to free speech insofar as we feel safe and respected in doing so?” Of course not—it’s when we feel unsafe and disrespected that the exercise of free speech is most effective, and even obligatory. Those who would only speak out when comfortable do not merit the privilege.

Jon Oelrich

Pflugerville, Texas

I respectfully disagree with Chancellor Dirks’s definition of free speech and wholeheartedly side with the late, great Lenny Bruce. The First Amendment was designed to protect unpopular speech no matter how disagreeable it may be. Popular speech needs no such protection; it’s already endorsed by the majority, which based on the message (consider Nazi Germany) can be more virulent than the feared speech.

Mark A. Klapperich

Dacusville, S.C.

Mr. Lukianoff’s article reminds me of a standard joke I grew up with under communism: “We have free speech—we can say whatever is allowed.”

Zoltan Trizna

Austin, Texas

Posted on September 12, 2014, in Postings. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Beyond question, the kind of speech intended to be protected by the First Amendment against infringement by government is the kind of speech which offends the government itself. Friends of the government, such as Cal Berkeley, are not permitted to do the heavy lifting of infringing free speech when Congress, the president and the federal courts cannot.

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