According to California University, “Freedom of Speech Can Be Interpreted as Hate Speech.”
The student government at the University of California, Irvine passed legislation that banned flags in its main lobby. They didn’t want any national flags there, but particularly the American flag, because of the offensive ideas that it represents to some people. To some people, it represents slavery, and to others, it represents American exceptionalism, both of which are extremely offensive concepts. For this reason, even though it’s a university, and they try to be tolerant and inclusive of all viewpoints and all types of speech freedoms, they’ve banned the hanging of any national flag in the main lobby. Campus Reform reported:
The Associated Students of University of California, Irvine (ASUCI) voted Tuesday to remove all flags, including American flags, from an inclusive space on campus because of their offensive nature.
The bill, R50-70, was authored by Social Ecology Representative Matthew Guevara, and accuses all flags, especially, the American flag, of being “symbols of patriotism or weapons for nationalism.”
“[F]lags construct paradigms of conformity and sets [sic] homogenized standards for others to obtain which in this country typically are idolized as freedom, equality, and democracy,” the bill reads.
The legislation argues that flags may be interpreted differently; the American flag, for example, can represent “American exceptionalism and superiority,” as well as oppression.
“[T]he American flag has been flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism,” the bill continues, arguing that “symbolism has negative and positive aspects that are interpreted differently by individuals.”
The anti-flag hanging bill adds that free speech, such as flags in inclusive spaces, can be interpreted as hate speech.
“[F]reedom of speech, in a space that aims to be as inclusive as possible[,] can be interpreted as hate speech,” the bill reads.
“Let it be resolved that ASUCI make every effort to make the Associated Students main lobby space as inclusive as possible.”
“Let it further be resolved that no flag, of any nation, may be hanged on the walls of the Associate Student main lobby space.”
“Let it be further be resolved that if a decorative item is in the Associate student lobby space and issues arise, the solution will be to remove the item if there is considerable request to do so.”
The flag banning legislation passed with six yea votes, four nay, and two abstentions.
The legislation resolved that any decoration that a student finds offensive will be removed from the Associate Student main lobby if the request is made.
ASUCI is the undergraduate governing body of UC-Irvine. According to its website, it’s student-led by those who are elected into their positions.
Imagine if someone wanted to put up an LGBT flag. I think they’d have to allow that by default. Otherwise, the student government would be guilty of homophobia and bigotry. But what about what that flag may represent to some people? Who cares. If it’s an LGBT flag, it must be allowed to fly, and everyone should be required to feel proud to see it. But an American flag? No, that would be racist.
This is America. The fact that the flag that represents this country is considered controversial is saying a lot.