With more books being published – not to mention billions of daily social media posts – Tweets, Facebook posts YouTube videos, blogs, podcasts – we’re exposed to more speech than in the history of mankind.
Each day we set a new record.
Under the Constitution, free speech is protected so the government can’t arrest you. You want to say the president is a bum, go ahead without getting jailed. But Americans also like to believe that they have protections to express themselves freely, when in reality, they have few exemptions from people who will seek retribution for speech they find offensive, bothersome, or critical.
The boss doesn’t like what you said in a personal blog? He can fire you. Did your FB posts not impress a company looking to hire you? They can decide not to hire you.
We all post about our views and lives and don’t listen equally to others. We make our world smaller when all that we do is echo our beliefs and show intolerance to opposing views to the point we seek to shut down their ability to speak. Just look at college campuses and their failure to give free speech a chance.
Anything can be extended to be defined as hate speech. Who’s to say what is or isn’t hate speech? You can’t stop hate speech, but as a society we can oppose it and hope to address the underlying issues behind it. Calling someone derogatory names or giving speeches imploring whites not to marry outside their race may feel wrong and in fact sound ugly, but bad speech gets drowned out by good speech. You can’t just stop people from thinking and saying what they want. No, you need to air it all out so that you can combat it. We must allow speech we disagree with, even what we believe to be repugnant.
Look at it this way, if your neighbor secretly hates black people and FB doesn’t allow him to vent his views, he slips under the radar. Further, no debate takes place when his racism is not made public. The censors at FB will win on controlling his speech, but not his actions. He can still act on his racism and we’ll have no warning, no opportunity to police him or even temper him, simply because he didn’t get to speak out. Besides, I think for many, by speaking out, even spewing hatred – allows them to get it out of their system and doesn’t necessarily lead to a dangerous act, but when we silence people they will at some point lash out, exploding with anger, resentment, and hate.
With so much speech and content around us, are we losing our rights to speak freely?