Left vs. Right: Free Speech (A Left Opinion)


Kate Meyers, Girls' Sports Editor

Freedom of speech, while it sounds like a positive and productive concept, is constantly used as an excuse for speaking and acting hatefully.

A perfect example of a problem that freedom of speech can bring the damage Donald Trump causes by speaking without thinking.

He was publicly asked “when will the U.S. stop sending money to our enemies, i.e. Mexico and others?” and his response was,

“The Mexican legal system is corrupt, as is most of Mexico. Pay me the money that is owed me now, and stop sending criminals over our border,”

— Donald Trump

 while also accusing Mexicans of being rapists, and bringing drugs or crime in to the U.S.

Mexicans make up 17% of the U.S. population; therefore, Trump is saying that 17% of people who are living in the United States are criminals and rapists. He’s alienating people, and it’s not okay.

Those who are complaining about the Black Lives Matter protests, a group which stands for peace and equal rights, are justifying their white supremacist ideology by saying they’re just exercising their freedom of speech. It cannot stand.

White supremacism is far beyond freedom of speech; it creates an unsafe atmosphere for Jews, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and multiculturalism. To justify the decisions of a group that are aiming to harm and degrade oppressed groups is absolutely inexcusable.

Also if people can abuse their freedom of speech, they should also be able to handle others exercising their rights. If they have the freedom to say racist, misogynist, or homophobic slurs, they should be fully prepared and open to hearing people from the other side telling them that they’re racist, or a sexist, or a homophobe.

The fact of the matter is, while people are not about to be stopped from saying certain things, that does not mean they should be said.

In today’s society it has become common to hear racial and homophobic slurs like the n-word and f****t on a daily basis. People say these things without even thinking of the way they could make each other feel with these seemingly small and harmless “jokes”.

Is it fair to people of color and the LGBTQ+ community to have to hear someone casually using the n-word as if it’s not a big deal, or saying “that’s so gay” as some type of insult? Not even a little. Freedom of speech has become just another reason for people to disrespect each other without anyone being able to stop them, no matter how harmful they’re being.

Take Milo Yiannopoulos for example. He goes around to colleges and blatantly insults feminism, Black Lives Matter, and progressive social justice, going as far as to say that “it’s cancerous and toxic to free expression”. He also had the audacity to contend that rape culture does not exist on campuses.

There are Berkeley students such as Kathryn Taylor Swain and Claire Danna, who have spoken out in interviews about their fears on campus because of the people using hate speech during “Free Speech Week”. Swain says “I am thoroughly petrified and fearful for my safety on this campus during Free Speech Week as a black woman”, and she “has chosen not to attend [her] lectures in efforts to keeping [herself] safe”. Danna “worries about the safety of queer and trans people like [herself]”, and considering “stepping back into the closet [that] week”.

Berkeley did not make a mistake cancelling “Free Speech Week”, it was with good reason. When there are students of color fearing for their safety to the point of skipping classes and LGBTQ+ students considering closeting themselves all over again because of hate speeches during that week, it’s too far. Cancelling the event for the sake of the people was a smart choice by Berkeley.

When U.C. Berkeley made the decision not to allow Yiannopoulos to speak publicly, Trump tweeted angrily about how “they did not allow free speech”. Apparently, according to our president, it’s okay for someone to publicly humiliate and shame groups of people just because they have the legal right to.

Society has gone too far when we’re more focused on what rights we have legally than we are on respecting and caring for one another.