Letter

Editor's note: The following is a letter to the editor from María Torre, a modern languages and literatures graduate student, in regards to the university's response to provocative religious speakers in front of the Union last week.  

I would like to respectfully disagree with the statement of "speech is protected, regardless of how offensive or provocative it might be." As a matter of fact, there are free speech exceptions, according to the Supreme Court: "Speech that involves incitement, false statements of fact, obscenity, child pornography, threats, and speech owned by others are all completely exempt from First Amendment protections. Commercial advertising receives diminished, but not eliminated, protection"

All the free speech exceptions are explained in this link and they include what the two men were doing at the Union. I don't think the solution is just to avoid the Union, a place that belongs to the university and that students have the right and freedom to use. Even though UNL has its own internal rules, it can not allow hate speech that targets women, homosexuals and members of religions different from Christianity. It simply can not, because it would go against the Supreme Court statements.

As an atheist, I felt unprotected and I felt my rights violated with that man shouting that whoever doesn't believe in God will go to hell, is short minded and a sinner. As a woman, I also felt a direct aggression witnessing how that man called "whores" the female students that disagreed with him. And as a friend of many homosexuals, I considered it offensive and hurtful.

That kind of speech is not protected by the first amendment, as it is not the one that stands for terrorist groups such as ISIS and the one that considers black people inferior, just as it was reminded a few months ago by UNL.

María Torre