The Usual Problems With the Free Speech Argument

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?

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7 thoughts on “The Usual Problems With the Free Speech Argument

  1. Honestly, the hate is coming more from the Left – your supposed “White Allies” – than those you’ve decided are racist. Indeed, every argument you put forth applies more to the Left than the supposed racists.

    That all being said, I agree 100% that freedom of speech doesn’t mean you have to say something; nor does it protect you from the responses or reactions to what you said, with the exception of many responses or reactions from the government.

    In other words, since we disagree, you’d be – insofar as I’m concerned – well within your property rights as a private citizen to ban me from this blog. Similarly, I’d be within my rights under the constitution to fire an employee for attending a NAACP rally and you’d be within yours to fire one for attending an Aryan Nation rally. And, of course, none of us are properly required to do business or engage in commerce with anyone, irrespective of our reasons for choosing not to do so.

    1. Jonolan,

      I never said that the left wasn’t without their racists. And I also said that they have a habit of censoring that brings about more issues. But the common theme is that the right always point the fingers at the left when it comes to racism, but NEVER want to self-reflect on the racism going on on THEIR side. It’s not like they’re not without their racism. Not by the longest of shots. Yet, they continue to deny or keep quiet about it.

      Yes, I have the right to kick people out of my den when their comments show evidence of cyberbullying or trolling of some kind. From what I can tell, you’re the most civil and mature with your comments even though I disagree with most of what you said. That’s why you’re not banned.

      And I certainly disagree with you somehow comparing the NAACP with the Aryan Nation. They’re not the same. The NAACP is mostly about the inclusion and advanement of black people into mainstream society through peaceful means. The Aryan Nation is about white supremacy through their violent hatred of other races.

      1. True, I just feel that the specific points you brought up fit the current Left more than the Right.

        As for the racism on the right – We’re probably just going to have to disagree again since we approach the whole thing from different basis, i.e., genetics vs. cultural choices.

        I also think that the Left fails more often to self-reflect on their racism at least as much as the Right does. Then, I find their paternal, caretaker attitudes towards non-Whites to be more damaging that actual hate-filled racism ala the Reconstruction.

    2. Jonolan,

      I don’t disagree entirely. Racism is a problem from both sides. The thing is it comes in different forms. The right is more open with their racism while the left is not as obvious. Yet, it can still be spotted and still, neither side wants to confront it honestly and with in-depth examinations and solutions.

  2. And there’s also this idea, in online spaces, that such people are entitled to a platform to ar their views, that if you block or chastise them, then you are interfering with their freedom to speak freely. I know you must have encountered this on your blog.

    1. I’ve been accused that a lot with a troll I booted out. I simply didn’t want to put up with his cyberbullying and racism anymore, but he called me a coward.

    2. Perhaps surprising, lkeke35, I’m in agreement with you on this, at least in a prima facie manner. I don’t believe anyone has an inherent right to a platform or audience. Also, the 1st Amendment doesn’t apply to private actors, only the State / Government.

      The only issue I have is it not, especially in social media, handled equally or fairly.

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