Since the founding of the United States, individuals have been passionate about their rights to speech and expression. This passion is not limited to adults; students of all ages have their own beliefs they have the right to express. But sadly, schools across the nation have attempted to suppress that right. For this reason, in 1969 (Tinker v. Des Moines), the Supreme Court decided that students have First Amendment rights in the classroom. Unfortunately, subsequent cases have tread on this right and limited free speech for students.
Ellie McFarland | United States
In the wake of what has been dubbed “The Smirk Seen Round the World” questions about the morality of doxxing are arising. In the case of this most recent incident, a video surfaced of a group of private Catholic high school students (attending the March for Life), “Black Hebrew Israelites”, and a Native American veteran ensconced in a what amounted to a commotion of dull screaming and a drum beat. But what caught the internet’s attention was the now infamous smirk of Nick Sandmann– the student pictured most prominently in the video. Soon after the video was released, the internet at large erupted into a tsunami of hit pieces and Twitter hate mobs. Eventually, full-grown adults found the addresses and other personal information of several Covington high school students. This is doxxing.
Nate Galt | United States
Many misguided young boys think they fight for freedom
But when barked commands to kill people, they heed them
When in the fields, men back home for little money toil
Believing that their liberties are defended, not America’s interests in oil
If bombing those an ocean away brings peace
That is an oxymoron, to say the least
But back home, those liberties for which soldiers believe they fight
Are being stripped by people who don’t care for rights
Only for their fragile sense of self
They wish to ban everything that they can’t help
They want their free-of-judgement safe spaces
By banning unpopular opinions from those same places
When real progressives would die for your right to speech
For whatever one wished to say or preach
Meanwhile, these supposed freedom fighters demand
That those who they disagree with get off their land
But the very law of the land, the Constitution,
Is being up-heaved in a revolution
To stop any speech or proselytization
Which they deem a danger to this nation
But what is a danger? A mere opinion or thought?
Censorship is an insult to those that fought
Not in Vietnam or Iraq, but to those who said that they see
A possibility for a new country with free speech and liberty.
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By Teagan Fair | United States
The First Amendment, naturally, comes first in the Bill of Rights. As such, it is the most important right. It has become an emblem of American society since our founders wrote it into law. Founder and hero George Washington once said the following on free speech:
“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
He was absolutely right. He, along with the other founders of this country, and any man or woman that values liberty, knew that there is simply no moral reason to prohibit free speech, even hate speech.
Allow me to ask an interesting hypothetical: If we can limit speech, then where exactly does one draw the line? The Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment does not safeguard “advocacy of the use of force” if it is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action,” and is “likely to incite or produce such action”. So, if you wish to draw the line there, it already exists. This makes sense and is just, as we must take action against serious threats. However, there should be no more limitations on free speech.
Hate Speech is Free Speech
Anything else, including hate speech, is simply one group of people enforcing values onto others. Ultimately, there is nothing that makes one set of values more or less important than others. This strikes a second question: whose values become proper, and whose become hate speech?
Let’s take a blatantly brazen and noxious group as an example: the Nazis. Many people may support a prohibition on the hate speech of Nazis. This is not morally correct. Sure, I hate Nazis as much as the next guy. Almost all can agree that Nazism is an ideology of hatred. However, provided that they are not advocating for direct and violent action, the Consitution still guards their rights.
Though they are morally wrong in intent, it is just as wrong to prohibit them from speaking. This goes for any ideology, on any side of the political spectrum. No matter how politically radical you may be, you have the same rights to free speech as anyone else. As said by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, “I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Hate speech, without a doubt, is free speech.
Violence and Hate Speech
Many people claim that hate speech is either violent itself or can provoke violence. Yet, hurt feelings do not mean that something is violent. On a moral level, it may be practical and/or moral to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. However, it is truly horrendous to ask the government to steal someone’s money or lock them away for espousing an opinion you do not like. This is no different than the government arresting an innocent man. Using violence itself, the state is enforcing the values of one person onto another. There is no other way to put it: this is a form of oppression, by the government and by fellow citizens. If the speech incites violence, it is another story. But there is a clear difference between a brash insult and a call to violence.
Moreover, it is worth noting that these rights apply universally. Age, gender, race, and creed, among other things, cannot take away free speech. The phrase, “You don’t get free speech until you’re an adult” is fairly common. Surprisingly, many children actually repeat it. This is completely untrue. As I noted previously, in 1969, the Supreme Court ruled in Tinker v. Des Moines that the First Amendment does apply to public school students, in a 7-2 majority. This applies to charter schools as well, as they act as public organizations.
The right to free speech is arguably one of the most important ones. Speaking is something that we do every day. To narrow it down, speaking about controversial topics is also quite regular. The government already influences or controls your business, your car, your money, your devices, your weaponry, and countless other rights. If the State controls our right to something as basic as free speech, what kind of society do we live in? Certainly, that would not be one that is civil or desirable.
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By Kenneth Casey | United States
Recently, Twitter has suspended the accounts of three prominent libertarian voices. Scott Horton; editor of antiwar.com and managing director of the Libertarian Institute, Daniel McAdams; Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity who often appears alongside Ron Paul on the Ron Paul Liberty Report, and Peter van Buren, a former foreign service officer who wrote a book critiquing America’s involvement in Iraq, all landed on the chopping block.
Horton, is one of the leading non-interventionist voices in the country. The author of Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, he stated he was suspended for calling Jonathan Katz a “boo hoo little bitch” for getting van Buren permanently banned from Twitter. The company apparently banned McAdams for retweeting Horton’s tweet at Katz.
In the aftermath of his account permanently shutting down, van Buren said in a letter that Twitter banned him for “exchanges with several mainstream journalists over their support for America’s wars and unwillingness to challenge the lies of government”. He then added “I lost my career at the State Department because I spoke out as a whistleblower against the Iraq War. I’ve now been silenced, again, for speaking out, this time by a corporation. I am living in the America I always feared.”
This all comes in the aftermath of the news of several media platforms removing Alex Jones. Spotify, Facebook, and YouTube all coordinated these to occur at the same time.
Although Twitter did not de-platform Jones and his company, the same logic applies. Three important advocates of a Foreign Policy of non-intervention and peace that goes against the establishment, mainstream narrative who happen to be vital figures to the libertarian movement now have their Twitter accounts suspended because of Twitter’s algorithms. Should we be silent about such a powerful company silencing these voices? Should we support their beliefs on right and wrong? Or instead, should we support letting its users decide that on their own with their own thoughts and beliefs?
While the threat may seem insignificant now, even private censorship of speech is often a slippery slope. The actions may trigger further removals in the future.
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