The Third Eye The Freedom of (Hate) Speech
Samiul Bashar Samin
We have person A and person B. Person A shouts at person B a racist comment, degrading him or her. However they include something about it being the public opinion. Person B gets offended and tries to take them to court. But they lose! Why? Because as long as it isn’t “fighting words” and includes a public opinion/topic you can’t be legally protected in some countries. Some nations have laws against hate speech (Brazil, Germany, etc) but there are many who don’t. Some countries don’t even offer freedom of speech! Lots of things can lead to hate speech like religious beliefs, society’s standards, and laws like the USA’s 1st amendment. A lot of this ties back to the Enlightenment era.
Freedom of speech has been, and always will be, a hot topic of debate. Throughout the years, freedom of speech, in the United States, has been shaped to protect some acts and not others.
For the sake of this piece, freedom of speech will be examined as it is presently constituted in the United States, with what it includes and what it excludes. With that being said, freedom of speech should not ever be restricted. It is far too important to our development as a nation, and restricting freedom of speech in any way would have dangerous implications which could lead to a domino effect.
As despicable as you may think groups like the Westboro Baptist Church are, it is necessary to protect everyone’s right to free speech, no matter how extreme their message may be. If one group becomes censored because of their extreme and potentially offensive message, it would only be a matter of time before many groups and messages would be banned. Soon, this domino effect could result in anyone who had any opinion that offended anyone else having their freedom of speech restricted. Not a single person would be allowed to have an opinion. Unbridled freedom of speech is essential to our existence as humans, simply because we all have differing opinions and beliefs.
All of this is not to say that freedom of speech should come without consequences. People sometimes do not recognize that freedom of speech protects you only from governmental interference, and not from other consequences. While the title of this article, “Freedom of speech should never be limited,” is in line with the premise of this piece, the content of this article is ignorant to what freedom of speech actually protects.
The article argues that freedom of speech should protect people from termination of employment due to things said in their personal life. However, free speech is not designed to include that, nor should it be. Jon Stewart speaks here about the fact that free speech does not mean consequence-free speech. Simply put, while you have every right to say whatever you want without punishment by the government, there is still a great responsibility that comes with freedom of speech, and with that responsibility comes consequence.
Words are just words until they are put in a certain context. However, even words taken out of context are just words and cannot be subjected to a banning every time it offends someone. The First Amendment doesn’t take sides. Putting limits on freedom of speech only creates a slippery slope where more and more beliefs and stances become censored, edited or never heard.
In conclusion, freedom of speech should never come with restrictions. In order for us to move forward as a society, it is essential that free thought and free speech be revered and protected. Limitations and restrictions on speech would only beget more restrictions, and potentially lead to violence being used as a means to change opinions, instead of a sharing of ideas.