It has always been the America position that free speech is an opportunity to enlighten ignorance. Do you think the First Amendment should be rewritten? Do you think it is a good idea to crackdown on free speech, as well as the press?
If you do what exactly does free mean? Are you asserting that there is a right to not hear certain ideas? Why does your right to not hear an idea supersede my right to hold and articulate the idea?
Free Speech is threatened
Free speech is under more threat than many of us previously believed. Our free speech rights and our free press rights have evolved well over 200 years. People now seem to be rethinking them. Maybe it is social media with all its targeting and the extremity of views expressed there. Perhaps it is a general climate of intolerance. Or it may be the influence of Islamic belief. Most likely it is some combination of all of the above.
Young people were the most likely to support curbing freedom of expression. They seem to think punishing those who engage in “hate speech is desirable. Slightly less than 60% of Millennial respondents between the ages of 21 and 38 agreed that the Constitution “goes too far in allowing hate speech in modern America” and should be rewritten. A majority of Millennials also supported laws that would make “hate speech” a crime. Those supporters, 54% said violators should face jail time.
American hostility to the First Amendment did not stop at speech. Millennials are not the exception. They are both the worst offenders and largest segment of the population. Many would also like to see a crackdown on the free press. Those respondents agree the “government should be able to take action against newspapers and TV stations that publish content with bias, that is inflammatory, or false.” Of those respondents, 46% supported possible jail time.
The pollsters think their findings are driven largely because of a rise of hate speech. Nobody seems to know what hate speech is. Historically hate speech receives First Amendment protection. The Supreme Court has upheld that principle time and time again. The problem is: What harm is done by articulation of a bad idea? Without showing harm to another why is it reasonable to take away a person’s God given right to communicate?
The Campaign for Free Speech did the poll. They hope to use it to advocate for preserving free and open dialogue in America. Hate speech may not be desirable, but that does not mean censorship is the answer. We should all push back against efforts to restrict speech at the local, state, and federal levels.
Speech you think is hateful should face opposition, but legally. The answer to speech we don’t like is more speech, not censorship. Isn’t it better to educate ignorance than to hide it in the closet? People need to better understand the First Amendment, free speech, free press, and why it’s so vital to our democracy. We cannot forget free speech tolerates hate speech.