Freedom of speech is one of many important aspects of the United States of America. It allows for discourse of different opinions that benefits all parties. While protecting this sanctity, however, free speech does not account for personal feelings. This election cycle has brought a new importance to the relationship between free speech and emotion. Every citizen has the constitutional right to express their right to free speech, and the election of Donald Trump by the American people has many citizens feeling scared, and that fear is being projected on social media websites and by large protests.
Andrew Bunting, the senior assistant director of admissions at George Mason University, projected his feeling towards the current political climate two weeks ago. Bunting posted on his Facebook account, “NOM [National Organization for Marriage], a recognized HATE group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. If you agree with them then that is your opinion. Just know that to the rest of us you are a piece of useless trash.”
Bunting has the right to voice his concerns for his future safety and the overall safety of the United States, but calling anyone that does not agree with his vision for the future “useless trash” discourages discourse. It starts an endless cycle of name-calling and finger pointing, and it can even be argued that the act is dangerous for various reasons.
The act of using insults as a means to attack a certain group gives credence to the idea that Trump supporters are the ones truly being discriminated against. This also acts as evidence that rural, white America is the most disenfranchised group in American society, rather than the racial minorities actively facing systemic oppression. Ignoring alternate perspectives severely limits the possibility of intelligent discourse, which is counterintuitive to the educational ideals that Bunting should represent.
These are all problems that need to be resolved, but the biggest issue with Bunting’s Facebook post is the fact that he is an admissions director at a public university. Now that Bunting’s opinion of conservative Christians has made waves across various forms of media, there is a chance that fewer conservative Christians will even bother applying to the school.
Even further, Bunting’s post went directly against the inclusive message from GMU’s President Angel Cabrera, which asserted that Trump and Clinton supporters alike are welcome at their institution.
Both Cabrera and Bunting act as faces for George Mason University, and to be so disconnected on an issue as important as this one is not a good look for the school. Bunting’s entire job centers around being approachable and open-minded when it comes to prospective students and he – sadly – failed on that front. Freedom of speech encourages discourse that can better our country, but not when it is used to make denigrating, sweeping generalizations on either side of the political spectrum.
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