Free speech is free speech… feelings don’t matter

No matter how far something goes, there is no line


drawn by Stella Holt

Gabriel Herrera, Staff Reporter

Speech has no limits, whether it offends you or not.

Plain and simple. Speech is not something that can be put into a box, where the government can protect our feelings. Every American is entitled to their opinion and has the right to voice it, as extreme as it may be. Both sides of the political spectrum have opinions that the other refuses to even consider valid, but that is the beauty of our democracy.

“We are a more healthy country when political speech is incredibly free. You don’t have to agree with what the opposition says, but you must respect their right to say it,” said John Beasley, economics teacher at RBHS.

If we do not agree with something that is said, our responsibility is to vote and show our numbers in the ballots, not to complain over something a politician said. As controversial groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the alt-right may be, they have the same right as anyone else to voice their opinions, as long as they don’t act on them . You are free to hate and to make personal views public.

Some people say that hate groups are where the line between hate speech and free speech begins and those who use it should be punished for their words. But the truth is, the line between the two is purely subjective. The only time speech should be policed is when it is a direct threat to a group or someone specific.

As ruled in in Brandenburg vs. Ohio in 1969, speech can be prohibited only if it is, “directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action,” and it is, “likely to incite or produce such action.”

But this goes both ways. This includes the controversial topic of Colin Kaepernick, and whether or not he can kneel for the national anthem. It is his constitutional right to kneel for the anthem, regardless of whom it offends. In kneeling for the flag he is exercising the rights that people died to uphold. But as hard as it is to swallow, the NFL and its teams’ owners are in their full right to not hire him as it is a private company. But the government, especially the president, is not in the place to critique it.

President Trump saying, “Fire that son of a bitch,” is contradictory to the constitution he swore to uphold. Encouraging action against a man exercising his right to protest treads over the line of infringing on free speech, and should be condemned. He has the same exact right that men waving Nazi flags have and Americans should not pick and choose what is allowed. Again, that is the beauty of our country; everyone has the right to voice their opinion.

Speech should be unbridled and limitless with no censoring. Things may offend you, but the hard truth is your feelings don’t matter. What matters is anyone being able to say what they want and have no fears of repercussions. That is how we advance as a people, no matter who is in the White House, who gets offended by hate groups, or who gets offended when public figures protest whatever they wish to. You should never get punished for what you say, or for publicly voicing your opinion.