“Hate Speech” is Free Speech

 

Author: Nicole Commisso

Every year the third full week of October (this year – October 16-22, 2017) is National Free Speech Week (FSW), an annual non-partisan, non-ideological event that recognizes and raises public awareness of the importance of free speech in our great country. FSW is intended to unify all Americans and celebrate the importance of the freedom we should never take for granted. Personally, I do not believe we should even need a week out of the year dedicated to free speech in order to understand the importance of it – however, for some people nowadays it’s essential.

Being a college student who strongly values her right to free speech in today’s society can be challenging as there are students, faculty, and administrators who have their own interpretation of free speech. For those who are fuzzy on the First Amendment of the Constitution, it clearly states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Although instances such as defamation (libel and slander) and perjury are not protected by the First Amendment, things like “hate speech” or offensive speech, whether you like it or not, are in fact fully protected. Unfortunately, it is becoming more prevalent that some fragile individuals think that if someone says something they do not like, then the other person does not have the right to say it. This is false. In fact, back in June 2017 the Supreme Court unanimously reaffirmed (in a case that was argued before Justice Neil Gorsuch was appointed) that there is no “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment.

Even with all of the fallacies that “hate speech” is not protected by the First Amendment, most tend not to understand that there is a huge generalization in this false notion. What one might consider is “hate speech” could most likely be completely different from what someone else may think. Something as insignificant as making fun of someone’s shirt could be considered hate speech to some while others may believe that making racist, derogatory remarks is hate speech. Whether either situation is right or wrong or actually “hate speech”, it does not matter – both are very much protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Just because you don’t like what someone has to say does not mean they do not have the right to say it. In addition, just because you don’t like what someone says does not mean others do not have the right to read it or hear it. Freedom of the press is a significant part of the First Amendment as it gives people the right to not only speak or write on a platform but for others to read or listen to what they want. Last time I checked this is America, where every American citizen has the right to freedom of speech, which includes speech that you may disagree with.

Spring semester of last academic year I wrote and publicly defended an op-ed piece for my college newspaper that many students, professors, and administrators did not agree with. Many claimed that I did not have the right to voice my opinion — while in fact, thanks to the First Amendment, I absolutely did. This right that I demonstrate consistently, for instance, through writing op-ed pieces or the most popular one for many today — social media outlets — should never be threatened — especially not by individuals who are worried about getting their feelings hurt with words. These social justice warriors trying to limit our free speech need to wake up and realize this is a dangerous game they’re playing. The rights we have as American citizens are incredible privileges that many others do not have. Especially as a woman, I am grateful to live in this country with equal rights and equal opportunity for all.

To have a different opinion from someone else falls under the protection of the First Amendment. If you break and crumble at the moment someone disagrees with you or says something you do not like, reality and the real world is clearly not your cup of tea. Take a moment and think of how fake and boring this world would be if everyone agreed on everything and tip-toed around each others’ feelings. For me, however, as a proud American, every week is free speech week.

 

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Memorial Day 2017: A Message From The Liberty Bell Team – “Freedom Isn’t Free”

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Editor-In-Chief/Columnist: Nicole Commisso

Ronald Reagan once said in a Message on the Observance of Memorial Day:

“I don’t have to tell you how fragile this precious gift of freedom is. Every time we hear, watch, or read the news, we are reminded that liberty is a rare commodity in this world.”

On Memorial Day, we need to put the best shopping sales, BBQs, and beach days in the back of our minds. We must put those who put their lives on the line and those who have given their lives for the service and protection of America’s freedom directly in the front. Memorial Day is a significant time to remember the incredible sacrifice that the brave men and women who fight and have fought for our country make and made for our freedom and to give us the ability to proudly say, “I am an American.”

Our great country was founded on freedom. As Americans, we have many freedoms that a lot of citizens in other countries do not – the freedom to stand up for what we believe in and protest what we are against (me writing this blog), the freedom to follow our own “American Dream,” the freedom to practice any religion we believe in, equality for men and women, equality for all races, etc. As a woman, I am very aware that I would not even have the opportunity to get an education or drive a car if I were in a place like Saudi Arabia, let alone have the equal opportunities here in America such as the ability to interview for the same job as a man.

We sometimes tend to take for granted the freedoms we have as Americans as we live our busy, hectic lives. But, when people get offended by free speech (opinions other than their own), decimate the American flag, and stick up for terrorists whose religion wants to destroy us, there needs to be a closer look taken at the world in places such as Syria where the freedom level is NOTHING CLOSE to ours. As the granddaughter of a veteran and a friend to many who are in the military, I strongly believe we need to acknowledge the privilege it is to be an American. We need to defend our military in return for their selfless defense for our freedoms.

I am undeniably proud to be an American and will continue to be tremendously thankful for those who protect our great country.


Associate Editor/Columnist: Michael Bove

What does Memorial Day mean to me?

Like so many other Americans, I come from a family of immigrants. My great-grandfather, a poor, uneducated Italian 18-year-old came to this great country just prior to the Second World War. At the time, Europe was struggling to recover from World War One, Fascism and Nazism were rising, and Communism had just gotten a foothold in the Soviet Union. Those dangerous movements were oppressing millions of Europeans and taking away their liberties and freedoms. Shortly after landing on Ellis Island, my great-grandfather worked with a local businessman to open up a coal station. Many years and generations later, my family transformed that coal station into a multi-state propane retailer.

I have been blessed to be a part of a family that has lived the American dream and had the freedom to start and run a business. My family’s successes, however, would not have been possible without the absolute sacrifices made by those whom we honor on Memorial Day. If it were not for the brave Americans who lost their lives in World War One, my great-grandfather might have never had the opportunity to immigrate to the United States.

Without American men and women fighting in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the War in Iraq and Afghanistan, and so many other conflicts, forces of evil and oppression might have encroached on our soil and done damage to our institutions that uphold the U.S. Constitution. Being an American citizen is a privilege that allows me to do a number of things that I wouldn’t be able to do in other countries, such as writing for this blog (especially considering that I wrote a piece that was critical of the current President). In many other countries, people can be fined, imprisoned, or even executed for writing opposing positions or speaking out against the ruling party of their government.

I am thankful that I have the right to speak out and write freely, and I only have those rights because of the sacrifices made by members of our armed forces to defend said rights. I hope that we, as American citizens, can fully appreciate the reason that we have a “Memorial Day”. Sure, it’s nice to get a day off from school and work, but really we should be consciously focusing on the sacrifices made by millions of Americans so that we have the opportunity to live freely in this great nation.


Columnist: Alex Pearce

Memorial Day, a time to remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of this great nation. It is the least we can do for the brave heroes of our armed forces. Without them, our security, freedom, and values would be lost to the evil forces of this world.

Though to many this weekend is an extra day off from work, it is vital that we remember the true meaning of this “holiday.” There is no greater honor than to give one’s life in defense of the United States. As a nation, though we may have our differences, we ought to remember, and preserve, the legacy of the brave men and women who allow us to have those differences. We must never take a day in this great nation for granted, as being citizens of the United States is the greatest blessing an individual can receive.

This Memorial Day, please take a moment to reflect, and respect, those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Without them, we are nothing. Godspeed to all those who have laid down their lives for our country, may you live forever in our memory.