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ERIC Number: EJ769769
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007-May-18
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Offensive Words, Lethal Weapons
Jacoby, Russell
Chronicle of Higher Education, v53 n37 pB2 May 2007
The old childhood ditty "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" has proved wiser than the avalanche of commentary provoked by the recent insults by Don Imus and the killings at Virginia Tech. Our society forbids public name-calling but allows sticks and stones. Anyone can acquire a gun, but everyone must be careful about what they say. The Second Amendment--the right to bear arms--trumps the First Amendment, the freedom of speech. By virtue of fact and reason this is bizarre. The Second Amendment remains disputed: Does the right to bear arms refer to state militias or private individuals? But apart from matters of law, how is it that verbal slights provoke widespread condemnation, while a crazed shooting elicits reflections that mainly focus on demented students and failures of security? Why are words treated as more dangerous than lethal weapons? In this article, the author points out that access to guns is the reason behind university killings. Instead of zealously controlling firearms, more resources are poured into improving the response time of SWAT teams, building additional security gates, and fine-tuning surveillance. Already many high schools look like prisons replete with intimidating fences and controlled entrances. He points out that concern should not only be focused on offensive words, but also on lethal weapons.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: First Amendment