Your Right to Speak

Sam Hallanger ’18, Student Life/Sports Editor

Every stable democracy is held up with the power of freedom of speech that allows its citizens to voice their opinions and spread their own ideas. Yet in America some people like to take advantage of this right of freedom and use it to create hate and division. Those people can cause harm and tension to and among others by using hurtful speech, but their speech is still allowed under the 1st Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”  Their speech may not be respectful or tasteful, however it is still their right to speak as Americans.

Every American is guaranteed their right to speak freely despite the content or context their speech is about. “I think the 1st Amendment is very important for our country and allows us to say what we want” sophomore Joe Carano said. Students of all ages are taking their stance on people’s right to speak their mind. One in five college undergrads say that is acceptable to use physical force to silence someone who makes “offensive and hurtful statements” according to Brookings Institution’s senior fellow John Villasenor. He conducted a survey of 1,500 college undergraduate students nationwide. This study has shown how college campuses have become a hotbed for censoring free speech. The idea of politically correct speech is also making a storm on campus. This occurrence of institutions made for knowledge and education trying to curb hurtful speech is getting out of control to the point that people are willing to give up their own right to help keep democracy alive in a very verbally stalled world. People have a right to voice their beliefs.

Allowing speech that can be seen as mean to certain people and is “hurtful” to others is an unnecessary freedom. ”I don’t think we should abuse our freedom to hurt people”, senior Lizzie Dilg said. For too long people have been using the 1st Amendment to give reason to why they can hurt others with words that can be used as weapons. Weapons that can leave a physical mark if taken too far for some to handle and cope with. There is no reason as to why someone would need to use hurtful speech to get their point across to others or try to intimidate others. To make someone else feel bad about who they are as a person or as people is unnecessary. There will be a day when letting people speak their minds freely while intending to cause emotional harm to someone without a consequence will reach a boiling point. A point to which we have gone too far and can’t turn back or remember that at the end of the day we have no reason to harm our fellow Americans.

As Americans, we have the golden ticket when it comes to our freedoms, by these freedoms are sometimes taken advantage of by people who intend to cause harm to others. Yet we have to decide if it’s really worth giving up certain freedoms so one group of citizens can be happy?  No, because at the end of the day, the good guys always shout louder than the bad guys who have nothing but hate in their hearts.


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