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University of Redlands, KPCC delve into differences between free and hate speech

By in Press Enterprise on December 2, 2017

By Kristina Hernandez

With a rise in political tension and protests on college and university campuses nationwide, is it possible to distinguish between free speech and hate speech?

This was the question pursued by a panel Thursday at University of Redlands, part of Southern California Public Radio’s KPCC “In Person” series.

KPCC personality Adolfo Guzman-Lopez moderated the discussion, and started the conversation by asking panelists to define free speech versus hate speech.

“Free speech is an American right,” said panelist Kamal Bilal, president of the university’s associated student body. “I believe everybody has the right to their opinions and should be able freely to express them. Hate speech is something that I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around for the past couple of weeks, because I’ve been trying trying to distinguish hate speech from something that is hurtful or insulting.”

Marcela Ramirez, president-elect of the California Council of Cultural Centers in Higher Education, said free speech allows her to talk about her own experience.

“For me, free speech is the ability to talk about my truth, my existence, the ways in which I live (in) the world, the ways I perceive the world, the ways in which I perceive how the world treats me, particularly as a woman of color,” she said. “How do I experience the world I live in and how can I share it freely?” replied Ramirez.

Panelists also touched on headlines, from the protests at Cal Berkeley during visits from conservative pundits Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopoulos to Shapiro’s March 2017 appearance at U of R, to bring real-world examples to the conversation.

Kathy Ogren, U of R provost, said Shapiro, had his own sets of expectations when speaking at the college and limited opportunities for dialogue with those who may have disagreed with him. Still, inviting speakers from various walks of life to the […]    

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