Inclusive Language Programs: Do they infringe on free speech?
There has been a lot of negative backlash over the public University of Michigan budgeting $16,000 in a time of constantly rising tuition fees to fund an Inclusive Language Campaign.
To briefly explain the program, it seeks to "raises awareness about the power of words, why certain language can be hurtful to others, and how to be more inclusive in how we speak and act" by educating about potentially offensive language.
For example, check out the following image that is part of the education program:
Other words considered to be unacceptable in the campaign include “crazy,” “insane,” “retarded,” “gay,” “tranny,” “gypped,” “illegal alien,” “fag,” “ghetto” and “raghead.” Phrases such as “I want to die” and “that test raped me” are also mentioned.
Now for the backlash: people are upset that school tuition is being used to, in their words, prevent freedom of speech. Supporters of the program say that it isn't preventing free speech, but rather, making the world a place where the right kinds of things are said, or that people thing about what they say before saying it. In their minds, free speech doesn't mean you should say everything that comes to mind, just that you can. And this program isn't regulatory, simply educational. You can find many examples of what the program has been doing on their Facebook page.
This whole issue reminds me of @nehpatel's card about free speech and what people really want from free speech. Does educating people about how their speech could be offensive really restrict them from using their free speech? Or, does it allow them to be more open and understanding of other perspectives which also want to be able to speak freely?
Regardless of if this is the right or wrong way to go about making people think about their words, I am just happy that the impact of words is being so strongly considered. Because what we say and what we write truly matters.