As a writer, I believe the First Amendment is sacred. The freedom of speech, however, does not guarantee freedom from consequence. You can speak your mind, but you can also be shunned. You can be criticized. You can be ignored or ridiculed. You can lose your job. The freedom of speech does not exist in a vacuum.
Many of the people who advocate for freedom of speech with the most bluster are willing to waste this powerful right on hate speech. But the beauty of the freedom of speech is that it protects us from subjectivity. We protect someone’s right to shout hateful slurs the same way we protect someone’s right to, say, criticize the government, or discuss her religious beliefs.
And so the students at Mizzou wanted a safe space to commune as they protested. They wanted sanctuary but had the nerve to demand this sanctuary in plain sight, in a public space. Rather than examine why the activists needed safe space, most people wrapped themselves in the Constitution, the path of less resistance. The students are framed as coddled infants, as if perhaps we should educate college students in a more spartan manner — placing classrooms in lions’ dens.