OPINION: The Problem With Freedom of Speech

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The problem with freedom of speech isn’t free speech as a principle, but rather the people. Free speech allows everyone to be able to share their ideas and opinions, regardless if it is unpopular or everyone disagrees with you, the whole premise is to be able to communicate without persecution of the government. Places like the UK and Europe don’t have a First Amendment, so the government gets to decide what rights the citizens have at any given time, whereas in the USA our Constitutional Rights are considered our God given rights that we receive just for being born.

In Scotland, a man who goes by the handle “Count Dankula” was convicted of a hate crime by teaching his girlfriend’s pug to do a nazi salute and then posting it to YouTube. He was originally facing jail time for exercising his freedom of speech (in a country with hate speech laws), but now only has to pay £800.

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Count Dankula article from NewsWeek

Just recently at California State University Fresno, a professor was fired for criticizing Barbara Bush for being a racist and raising monsters on the day she died. The President of the university issued this statement,

“This was beyond free speech,” he added. “This was disrespectful.”

What does beyond free speech mean? You can call a person the n-word, say f you to someone, call them fat, a nazi, etc., and people would find that disrespectful or even offensive. To say that being disrespectful is beyond free speech is absolutely absurd. There is no such thing as beyond free speech, there either is free speech or there isn’t. I don’t agree with what the professor said, but it was well within her rights to say it, regardless if people found it offensive or not.

Another problem we are facing today as a society is people contacting advertisers and employers trying to take away someone’s stability because they said something that they didn’t agree with. Recently, Laura Ingraham called out David Hogg, one of the leaders in the March For Our Lives movement for gun reform, about him not getting accepted into colleges, saying that he was whining about it, and his response as well as other liberals on Twitter was to call out all of her advertisers saying that they will boycott them for supporting Laura’s show. While this is technically legal, it doesn’t make it right, and it also goes against the core idea of free speech, because what this trend will create will be more thought policing from both sides, trying to silence the opposition.

One more thing to mention would be social media itself, such as Facebook or Twitter. They advertise themselves as a platform, but these giant tech companies keep censoring people and curating content that they are no longer platforms of free speech, but instead more like publishers with an agenda. Facebook and Twitter both ban conservative accounts and pages, while also pushing more liberal agendas. Even though it’s not illegal, it still goes against the core values of the First Amendment.

The First Amendment is the most important right we have as U.S. citizens, there’s a reason it was made the first. It protects us from the government thought policing as well as convictions based on opinions of what is hate speech or a hate crime. Freedom of Speech isn’t the problem, the problem is the people who abuse it to try to censor others.