If Hate Speech Is Criminalized, We Could Lose All of Our Free Speech

If Hate Speech Is Criminalized, We Could Lose All of Our Free Speech

Even though the government should not censor hate speech, social media platforms should.

71
views

Now more than ever, the public has been debating whether hate speech should be protected under the First Amendment. Thanks to the current political climate, intolerant people have a renewed sense of confidence in announcing their discriminatory thoughts to the world. When activists try to defend themselves and others from those verbal attacks, the prejudiced people defend their statements by saying that they are exercising their right to freedom of speech. As unbelievable as it sounds, they are right. Hate speech is protected under the First Amendment, and as much as it pains me to accept it, it is for the best.

In a perfect world, I would love for intolerant ideas to be unacceptable in our society, but unfortunately, this is not our reality. I used to believe that people that are outright racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. should not have their speech protected under the First Amendment because it directly attacks groups of people, but it is tricky to say that hate speech should be banned because not everyone agrees upon what is considered hate speech.

Lee Rowland, the Senior Staff Attorney of the ACLU, explained in her TedX Reno speech,

"But what if we gave the government the power to decide which of those men was too hateful to speak? Look at our current president — he called Charlottesville marchers "very fine people," while reserving his ire for Black NFL players, whom he called "sons of bitches." Your idea of "hate speech" may not be the government's idea of "hate speech." I know mine isn't. But even if you agree with Trump — are you sure our next president will agree with your worldview? You shouldn't be."

I stated in a past article of mine, "All opinions should be given a space to be heard, no matter how unpopular they are." I still agree with that statement but to an extent. Even though I agree with Rowland that hate speech should not be censored by the government, that does not mean that I think that social media platforms should allow hate speech to be posted and shared on their websites. I was inspired to touch on this subject because of Mark Zuckerberg's recent decision to not have Facebook ban Holocaust deniers because it would be taking away their voice. He claimed that even though he finds it deeply offensive as a Jew, he will not have those people banned because he does not think that they are intentionally misinformed. Zuckerberg explained,

"Everyone gets things wrong, and if we were taking down people's accounts when they got a few things wrong, then that would be a hard world for giving people a voice and saying that you care about that."

Facebook will not promote this kind of misinformation, but they will not take those posts down unless they contain harassment or threats of violence. I do not agree with Zuckerberg's stance because allowing Holocaust deniers to still have a platform on Facebook will only help antisemitism thrive. Giving Facebook users access to inaccurate information about the Holocaust can cause people to garner hatred for Jews, which can then transition into threats of violence.

Since Facebook is not a government organization, I do not think they should allow intolerant opinions and misinformation to be posted on their website. Facebook needs to take responsibility for their role in allowing inaccurate information to be spread these past few years and take the appropriate actions to prevent it from continuing to happen.

Even though it frustrates me that I have to deal with seeing hate speech in order to be able to voice my own opinions, at least I know that our current president and future presidents cannot prevent me from fighting for human rights even if they see my stance as "hateful."

Popular Right Now

An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
222788
views

What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

An Open Letter To PETA CEO Ingrid Newkirk

For an organization whose sole purpose is to ensure the ethical treatment of animals, I have many questions.

281
views

Dear Ms. Newkirk,

I, like you, am a firm believer in the right to compassion for all living beings around the world. Ever since converting to veganism from the omnivorous lifestyle I was raised to lead nearly six years ago, I have heavily relied on PETA.com and its affiliates for information, facts and statistics, recipe ideas, cruelty-free lifestyle selections, and activism opportunities on almost a daily basis so that I may further grow my knowledge and support for this permanent lifestyle change. When I search for new beauty or household products, clothing, shoes, and more, it is always comforting to see the "PETA-Approved Vegan" logo on the box, and I am confident in the purchases that I am making.

It was only recently that a new stream of data was brought to my attention that has altered my viewpoint of your organization and what it truly stands for, and I request that you provide the public your reasoning or justification for such acts, and any reparations that need to be made. Another lifelong vegan friend of mine recently pointed out to me a website called petakillsanimals.com where there is sizable physical legal evidence of immense animal cruelty, suffering, and murder at the hands of PETA over the last fifteen of years. Seeing as you have been the CEO of the organization for over 25 years, I figured it would be best to address you directly, seeking a response to this evidence of cruelty from the globally renowned organization that does all that it can to fight cruelty in every form.

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, from 1998 to 2017, 85.2% of all dogs and cats transferred to your facility for shelter were euthanized within 24 hours of being brought to your facility. Despite your reasoning that you painlessly end the suffering of animals who would have otherwise been left to suffer anyway, the arguments and justifications that you are making mirror the arguments of the meat, dairy, poultry, and fish industries (whom you dedicate your life to combating) all too identically. Just as PETA fights to end society's blasé attitude toward animal cruelty and murder, your attempt at claiming that the way you euthanize the animals in your facility is "better", renders one of PETA's greatest catchphrases, essentially, worthless: "There is no such thing as humane murder".

Similarly, after wrongfully luring a family pet off its porch in 2014, PETA took the pet from its owner's property and euthanized it, bringing the dog's owners to file a lawsuit with your organization that was just settled in 2017, where PETA was forced to pay the family nearly $50,000 dollars in damages. Finally, terror is not ever a justifiable option to invoke change, so why are you personally and professionally so aligned with the Animal Liberation Front, a terrorist organization responsible for arson, extensive property damage, and assault? Why have you donated nearly $80,000 to groups that promote harming life in order to save a life?

Ridding the world of violence with more violence has never, does not, and will never work, so if I can request only one thing from you in this letter, even if you refuse to answer my other questions, it is this: please take the funds that are allocated towards extensive euthanasia drugs and services used by and in your facility, and put them toward building either another building to house more animals if physical space is a concern, for providing food and more extensive adoption services for these animals, or donate them to a true no-kill animal-rights organization like Best Friends Animal Society, Underdog Rescue, or any others provided on this list.

In this letter, my intention was neither to attack nor provoke you in an inflammatory manner, but rather to merely seek truth from an organization that I once so dearly respected and wish to one day respect again in the same manner. I thank you for your time, and for all of the lives that you have saved in between.

Sincerely,

An Animal Lover & Ally

Related Content

Facebook Comments