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free speech

Freedom of speech, also referred to as the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, means that the government has no power to sanction or censor an individual’s right to articulate his or her opinions, ideas or thoughts. Nowadays, it’s a motivational tool and go-to excuse for those, mostly on the right, to say whatever they want regardless of moral or factual value or lack thereof.

Racists have been known to use the “free speech” retort whenever confronted about their hateful statements. They think that they have the right to say such things and those who have a problem with it are often called ‘communists, fascists, leftists, snowflakes, etc.’. The irony, of course, is that their defense of free speech promotes silencing the same freedom from those who disagree or oppose them. In other words, they’re showing that they really don’t care about free speech unless that speech agrees with them wholesale.

Mark H. White, a graduate student in psychology, and Christian Crandall, professor of psychology, writes:

“When people make appeals to democratic principles — like ‘freedom of speech’ — they don’t always represent a genuine interest in that principle,” White said. “We think of principles as ideas we use to guide behavior in our everyday lives. Our data show something different — that we tend to make up our mind on something based on our attitudes — in this case, racial attitudes — and then decide that the principle is relevant or irrelevant. People do whatever best fits their pre-existing attitudes.”

It’s no surprise that hate-fueled people defend other hate-fueled people when they’re caught and(or) punished for their actions. The argument usually goes to the notion that having the freedom of expression is to say whatever they want seemingly without repercussions. Any retaliatory action against that person is conceived as a direct threat against his(her) right.

There’s never any self-reflection or pondering as to why anyone would say something offensive. What’s worse is that the individual caught red handed will always come up with excuses trying to paint him or herself as the actual victim, not the person or people they crossed. “I was drunk. I have a mental illness. I had a bad day. But I’m not racist.”

Not everyone who invoke the First Amendment is prejudiced, and there are, indeed, some people on the left that are for censorship that has consequences on the people. But the conclusion is that having the right to say what’s on your mind doesn’t always mean that it must be said, nor does it mean that it’s not without responses or reactions. As the topic of free speech has lately been on fire on America’s college campuses thanks mostly to the appearances of right wing and alt-right celebrities and flyers produced by white nationalists, the public is asked how far can freedom of speech go for it to actually be considered free. So far, the ones fighting for it the most have a lot of hate to give and they seem to want to be free to hate.

The question is why must they hate?