Re: “Maine Voices: How to really establish free speech on campus” (May 7):

Freedom of speech is protected by the First and 14th amendments to the United States Constitution – but it is a means, not an ultimate goal of the Constitution. The goal is the Preamble, which states: “The People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish the Constitution for the United States of America.”

Freedom of speech should further these goals. A classic example of speech that does not further these goals is lying, such as yelling “fire” in a crowded theater when there is no fire, or speech that promotes the extermination of so-called “inferior” human beings, such as Hitler’s speeches. These examples do not help establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, promote the welfare or secure the blessings of liberty.

When I was growing up, in the 1940s and ′50s, speech was much more restricted than it is today. Sexual content and swearing were banned by the media, publishing houses and the Catholic Church. When in Spain, shortly after the death of Franco, I was shocked to see posters advocating communism, anarchy and everything else you can think of. My point is: Our concept of freedom of speech varies with time and place.

As to the letter to “my daughter” referenced in this Maine Voices: It’s unclear whose daughter they’re talking about. I suggest the author read it as if it were written by a liberal father advising his daughter how to deal with “bad apple” conservative professors. The letter is a shocking advocacy of not listening to someone else’s opinion. What’s the point of free speech if no one is allowed to listen?

Anne Richmond

Cape Elizabeth


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.