If you’re thinking to yourself it’s been way too long since I’ve posted anything, you truly are a friend to actually pay attention to it. This thought I want to work through is actually derived from a research essay I had to write in my English course. The subject of my research was the 1st amendment, in particular freedom of speech. As a subject it would seem to be straight forward and simple to most. This may be true if a person is living in a dream world void of news cycles and social media apps. The research alone often pointed to articles about campus culture and political debate. Most often the highlight of the debate was hate speech. When I originally thought of hate speech I would imagine the thought was the same as any other reader. The term Nazi comes to mind. Racial, cultural, and personal slurs all define our definitions when the term hate speech rears its evil head. Here’s the rub though, many college students in major liberal colleges define basically any speech that isn’t copesthetic with their own is hate speech. For example, if the agreement isn’t made on the subject of immigration, not only is the term coined, but the -isms begin to pile on. Fascism, racism, common sensism… okay I made that one up… but you get the point. If the contradictory viewpoint disagrees with illegal immigration, the holder of said view is racist, islamaphobic, and any other evil description that the student deems you worthy of. When the hell did the country get to this point? Where opposing sentiments were classified hate speech? The slippery slope that many warn about begins here.
Many forget that at many points of history the opposing views were integral to the development of our society. In a not too distant past the consensus was that ownership of slaves was considered normal and accepted. It took the opposition of many through generations to adopt the opposing viewpoint. In an even shorter past the norm of society was accepted that segregation was important and black civil rights did not matter. It took an opposing viewpoint among whites along with the solidarity of black citizens in opposition to change what was considered the correct societal perception. The changes throughout the life of our great country have been led by opposing feelings and opinions backed by fundamental rights believed to be had by American citizens. What does this have to do with hate speech and free speech? Everything. Whether the speech of a person is offensive is irrelevant. I realize that may be a bold statement, but the old adage goes “you can’t please everyone”. No matter what is said, offense can be taken given a big enough audience to the views being expressed. Obviously the actual speech of hatred can’t be overlooked. The Aryan Nation, Neo-Nazi’s, KKK, and many more are despicable to say the least. That being said their right to speak of niggers and kikes, homos and spics is protected as well. While many wouldn’t agree with me, I say good. Brrr, I’m sure it just got chili in the thoughts towards me (or on fire), but without that speech, we could never know the true intention of such people, the idiocy of such rhetoric. Even more so we would never have the opportunity to combat such filth. While this country lately seems to be fueled by race-bating political leaders, news-casters, and individuals alike, my only hope that as we observe MLK Day that we get back to the day people are “not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
In closing I hope that all these “safe space snowflakes” will develop a thicker skin, and learn to observe opposing viewpoints, regardless of the validity of those expressing them. Without open dialogue nothing can change, and poisonous thoughts will remain to course through the veins of diplomacy and major issues will never be resolved.