Wednesday, December 6, 2023
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Freedom of Speech

Jojo Rai, Grade 12
Conard High School

Freedom of Speech is one of the rights that I treasure greatly. I have always valued the freedom to speak whatever is on your mind, offensive or not. In many countries around the world, the government has a strong handle on what can and can’t be produced or said. You are not allowed to change your religion or persuade someone to do so, and the Government may burn copies of newspapers it dislikes. Furthermore, many people are afraid of speaking out against the corrupt government in fear of punishment and being attacked. America is the only place left on earth with no restriction on speech other than violence, however, the tide is slowly shifting in today’s society, with more people not advocating for free speech, but the freedom to not hear others opinions. I can see the change happening in schools across the nation and even within our own school with more and more “safe spaces”, a small but rising 34% of college students say colleges should prohibit speech on campus that is biassed against certain groups rather than allow all ideas on campus according to the CATO Institute 2017 Free Speech & Tolerance Survey. Yes, these safe spaces do help make people feel comfortable, but it also encourages kids that dealing with adversaries head-on is not necessary when it should be. I believe you should be pushed out of your comfort zone to a certain I personally enjoy satirical comedy, jokes that can be seen as offensive to some, and music with derogatory language (SNL skits, comedians, rap/hip hop). A troubling statistic I encountered, however, was the fact that 35% of students believe Colleges shouldn’t discipline students who shut down invited campus speakers. This seems utterly stupid and quite immature. If more and more campuses allow students to carry on with this mentality, it further polarizes both sides of the spectrum into hating each other. Now while liberal democrats do tend to try to impede on the free speech of conservative republicans, 75% of attempts of restricting free speech come from liberals towards republicans, I do concede that it happens with both sides, both sides have ignorant people who spew incoherent ignorant thoughts. I wanted to do this project not only because I feel so strongly about it, but to challenge others who may buy into this idea and may not think of the consequences it may bring. I also want to hear what others have to say and see if it changes any thoughts or beliefs I have regarding this issue, because the reason we have free speech and the reason you can say whatever you want is because if you listen to multiple viewpoints your understanding and knowledge gets enriched, and if you hear something you don’t like you have the ability to refute and argue against it. The fact of the matter is having minimal restrictions on free speech has always resulted in greater freedom than vice versa, and it should stay that way in the U.S. Intellectual comfort is not a right, and never has been, and hopefully never will be. You don’t have the right to not be offended, but you do have the right to say something about it. Free Speech is unquestionably the most fundamental and essential human right in the world and should have no hate speech legislation.

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