Every fall at the University of Minnesota, groups of college students paint murals along the inside walls of a pedestrian bridge on campus. This year, one of the student group’s murals presented a large painting promoting Trump for the upcoming election. The group, who call themselves the College Republicans, included in their message the bold letters “Build the Wall”. Their referral of Trumps plan to build a wall across the border between the United States and Mexico generated controversy across campus. The sign was vandalized later on with the words “Stop White Supremacy”. Many students did not support the mural and argued that there is a difference between freedom of speech and hate speech. Would you agree with this statement?
With freedom of speech arguments also occurring on the UNL campus just in the past week, this is an interesting thought to bring on. Whether it is players kneeling during the national anthem, or murals painted by students expressing their political opinions, it is PROTECTED speech. As we discussed in class, freedom of speech is a right not a privilege. Many of the topics people decide to voice their opinion on will inevitably be targeting a certain topic or group. Just because you do not agree or become angered by their words does not mean they don’t have the right to speak.
The University of Minnesota President handled the situation in the same way the UNL president handled our Husker players. He said although the message may have been found offensive to some groups of students, it is speech that is protected by the first amendment. You neither have to agree nor disagree, but you also have the right to fire back with more protected speech.