AdmitEDGE Verbal Quiz – Reading Comprehension

We make room for unpopular speech, which is vital for a free society, for dissent, for innovation, and for a vigorous civic life. But we also seek to exact consequences for offensive speech. Call it a balance between individual rights and social responsibility. For example, when Lawrence Summers, then the president of Harvard University, suggested that the underrepresentation of women in the sciences somehow reflected their shortcomings, a storm of protest ensued. He argued that he was misunderstood and tried to make amends, but in the end the outcry contributed to his resignation from the job.


For every public figure that society chastises, thousands of the rest of us respond by thinking: I know I have the right to say it, but is it the right thing to say? Which is as it should be, because free speech is at its best when it is deliberate, not when it involves shooting from the hip. Nobody is arguing that we have found the perfect balance. But in the example cited above, the mainstream media seem to keep most public figures in check most of the time. When people do offend, they hear plenty in the public sphere, which is the way society keeps the balance between the right to speak and the community’s right not to have its sensibilities undermined.

What is the main argument of the author in the passage?

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