If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say

When free speech isn’t always free


Abi Lingam, Staff Writer

Freedom of speech is a right that you are given as a citizen of the United States; however, if your speech harms someone then it could be taken away.

Opinions of what freedom of speech is differs because of different political ideologies. The first thing that needs to be acknowledged is everyone has a right to say what they want. With that, despite your beliefs, you are allowed to have your own thoughts and opinions and preach to those around you what you stand for.

If you are running a Black Lives Matter campaign no one can stop you from that. If you are religious, no one can come into your life and tell you what and what not to think about the topic at hand. You can stand by your own opinions. That being said, our freedom of speech is a right given to us by our Bill of Rights, meaning that it is a privilege that we have by being citizens and living within the United States of America. It is a privilege, this means that it can be taken away from us.

This is what needs to be discussed. The moment that you harm someone with your “free speech” is the moment that someone can step in and tell you no. They can tell you that it is not okay the second you cause actual harm to them. That is hate speech. Hate speech is defined as speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, gender, sexuality or disability.

It also is not protected by the U.S. Government proven by the Matal v  Tam case. In this case, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said that hate speech that discriminates based on someone’s viewpoint is a terrible form of content discrimination and is unconstitutional. Content discrimination is not something our government protects.

Physical violence that results from hate speech is another example of when people have the right to step in and stop you. A blatant example of this was the Charlottesville: “Unite the Right” rally in Virginia. In “Unrest in Virginia” in TIME said, “a vehicle drove into a crowd of counter-protesters marching through the downtown area before speeding away, resulting in one death and leaving more than a dozen others injured”. The violence that came from both the protestor and counter-protestors all sparked from the hate speech that rallied the groups together. These forms of physical violence are where the line needs to be drawn.

Freedom of speech is a right that was given to us by our government, but it can be taken away. Recognizing this fact can open up positive environments where differing opinions can be discussed and we can use this freedom for good rather than evil.