Free Speech: A Quick Deconstruction
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Politics and Activism

Free Speech: A Quick Deconstruction

Let's discuss.

Free Speech: A Quick Deconstruction
Emmad Mazhari

Over the course of the last year and even more so in the past few months, I've been reading a lot about this funny little thing we call free speech. Mostly in the context of free speech violations. More specifically, certain people's (I'm looking at you, Milo Yaskweenacropolis) events being protested or cancelled at public universities, or certain Twitter accounts being shut down, or even certain pieces of Nazi scum being slugged in the face.

Are protestors outside of Milo's events passionate, undying enemies of free speech? Are those who demand that the Twitter accounts of out-and-proud white supremacists be taken down really burning large print editions of the First Amendment in the communal campfire of their communist compounds? Let's discuss.

So, the First Amendment. What exactly does it say about Free Speech?

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.

But what exactly does that mean?

What it means is, they can't arrest you and prosecute you for anything you say (well, there's always that thing about shouting bomb in an airplane or fire in a movie theater, but that's a whole other animal). The United States government cannot create a law that says "henceforth, no one shall tweet pictures of the President with his toupee blown off by the wind, or they will be drawn and quartered." That would be an infringement of free speech. Congress cannot create a law that makes it illegal for Milo Whatshisname to speak at a university. Congress cannot create a law that a certain person cannot have a Twitter account, or that certain people cannot be mocked over the Internet. Congress cannot tell that movie theater in Alabama that it has to show the new Beauty and the Beast(I'm sure the Disney execs are all saving up their pennies for all the money they'll lose from the lack of those profits). All of that would be gross infringements of free speech, and would be unconstitutional.

However, having your Twitter account banned because you harassed and slandered other users is not an infringement of free speech. Having your public speaking event cancelled because a majority of the people at the establishment hosting you don't agree with what you're saying is not an infringement of free speech. You are welcome to say whatever you want--but free speech doesn't mean you're entitled to a platform and an audience, or that you're beyond criticism. Sorry.

Is it counterproductive to progress to shut people down just because they believe differently than you do? Of course it is. But it is not a violation of free speech.

Additionally, just in case you were wondering, saying that black and brown people should go live separately from white people because whites are superior, or that Mexicans are rapists or gays need to be electrocuted to make them straight again? Yeah, that isn't speech at all. That is hatred. And shutting that down isn't counterproductive to progress. The very existence of that kind of rhetoric is counterproductive to progress.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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