The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Political speech is not bias

I was fairly disturbed by your article titled "Students file bias report" in the Sept. 16 edition. Although I can understand why the students who painted Beta Bridge with the message "Palestine deserves a state" could be unhappy that someone painted over it, this is so clearly inside the bounds of what we understand as First Amendment rights that I'm actually offended as an American that they would attempt to file a claim of bias against whomever painted over "Palestine" and drew a line through "deserves."

First, it is so far from obvious that any part of that action was racially or religiously inspired that it seems ludicrous to deny off the bat that the response painting was a political message, akin to the message that the original students painted.

Secondly, speech that offends someone is still protected by the First Amendment. Unpopular speech is still speech, and we have a long history of tolerating dissent in this country. That is especially true for political speech, and the nation even goes as far as protecting hate speech. Given the students' claim of bias, they are probably woefully unaware that our University recently changed its codes on speech, amending them so that protected speech will not be subject to disciplinary action.

I feel confident the University will deal with this in a manner that respects our liberty as students to express our opinions, but at the same time it is disheartening that some students would go so far as to try and censor others because their speech was responded to in a public forum in the same way that they and many other students have expressed themselves: by painting Beta Bridge.

If the students had put a sign up on their property, and someone destroyed it then they should report it as vandalism. But in a public space, where the students who painted over their message had just as much of a right to express their political sentiments? Sorry, but I cannot support censoring that, and I honestly was agitated that this action was given so much attention by your newspaper.

In my opinion, filing a bias report is more dangerous than any form of political speech in a public forum, and giving it attention only validates the idea that political speech can be bias. It even promotes the idea that something perceived by one person as bias is not still speech.



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