There’s a lot of strong feelings out there, especially with all that has been happening politically. And lately, it seems far more common to rely on those feelings than looking into the facts.
“Hate speech is not free speech.” is just one line that has become normalized and considered a regulatory statement to many. It took everything in me not to refute it when a co-worker of mine said it. For me that phrase is terrifying. Terrifying because I know that there are power hungry people who will take advantage of this popular idea, exploit it for their own benefit, and take away American’s rights in the process.
What is the measure of that which is offensive? Is it individual opinion? If we try to legislate and regulate the use of hate speech it will never stop, where do we draw the line? Can a line even be drawn at all? Evidence of this in action can already be seen in other places like Canada, where provisions are put into place that allow persons who refuse to refer to someone by their preferred pronouns to be sent to jail. Much respect to Jordan Peterson for calling this out as the free speech inhibitor that it is.
Flashback to my senior year of high school: government class was mandatory for every senior and I had the best teacher. He intimidated me, but only because he was so formidably informed. When we arrived at the topic of free speech I recall in his lecture his statement: “The KKK has every right and freedom to assemble with police protection as long as they follow the law.” A student sitting across from me immediately decried “That’s not right!” Another instance where I had to bite my tongue, lest I draw myself into an awkward argument.
“Yes, it is right. If we tried to regulate the freedom to assemble and say what you want to say based on majority vs minority beliefs then we wouldn’t be America at all. Silencing someone for the sole reason of disagreement would be the exact opposite of what our country was built on and betrays the mechanism in which it functions.” I wish I could have actually said that.