McAlister chalkers have the right to free speech

America’s founders demanded that its citizens have the right to free speech. The public has consistently engaged in protests, exercising this right. At Tulane, with a freshman class that hails from 46 different states and 18 different countries, we expect a myriad of political opinions. No student’s voice should go unheard. 

Students have recently started a polarized chalk dialogue on McAlister Place supporting and detesting the government’s funding of Planned Parenthood, with messages like “Have courage, choose life,” “Adoption is the loving option,” “#YaMamaDidIt,” “#IAmNotMyMom” and “Life is beautiful” that have sprung a conversation on the moral, ethical and logistical facets of abortion. 

At a top 50 university, political conversations should not only be welcomed but also embraced. Sparking a discussion about one’s ideologies on a controversial subject helps societies progress. In the interest of this, all students should possess the right to voice their opinions.

Not all speech is protected under the concept of free speech, however. Blatant hate speech, or threatening specific groups, are not protected. Infringing on other’s abilities to speak their views is not protected. What happened in this situation, however, was not threatening or harmful toward others’ ability to speak their mind.

Chalking has been a prevalent custom to promote student clubs, notify the campus community about upcoming events and express one’s general thoughts. Publicly announcing one’s beliefs calls for others to react, whether in support or in dissent. To say one student’s right to state an opinion is greater than another’s goes against our country’s model of free speech.

The Hullabaloo values freedom of speech to the highest regard. Having the ability to share the daily news and many staff members’ opinions, no matter how controversial, is a right. Chalking is a form of expression that incites conversations that can be more productive for the chalkers and bystanders.

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