Universities, places of higher-education, are supposed to be the ultimate refugee for freedom of speech. They are supposed to be places where any thought, no matter how strange, can be subject to the free marketplace of ideas. In these places, no manner of thinking should be barred from debate, and should be judged solely on the validity of its arguments, not the biases of the mainstream or the powerful.
With these criteria in mind, art is the natural, inseparable ally of freedom of speech. Their goals are parallel. At its core, art and the artist throw both their work and themselves into the free marketplace of ideas, where its merits can be debated by readers, by critics, and by students. If there is one thing I hope about this magazine, it is that it continually strives to uphold the ideal that any prose or poetry can be published here, based solely on its merits, and not on the biases of its editors (myself included).
As any good ally does, freedom of speech and art work together not just in peacetime, but in times of war. When the censors threaten the sanctity of art, such as the attempts in the past to censor Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, advocates for freedom of speech will come to its defense. When freedom of speech comes under attack from bullies or ideologues, authors like George Orwell will, in their art, show the dangerous results of such dictatorial actions.
We as students of these institutions should be the vanguards for freedom of speech, and we can do that in many ways. As a writer myself, I choose to do so through written art, and I imagine I’m far from alone in such a case.
Stockton Carter, Touchstones Prose Editor