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Freedom Of Speech In America And Its Limits

2983 words - 12 pages

Like most democratic nations in the world, the United States has had its own fair share of issues with hate speech. There has been a lot of controversy over whether hate speech should be regulated. In analyzing the concept of free speech, one cannot ignore that it does not occur in a vacuum. There have been all types of debasements ranging from ethnic, religious, racial and gendered stereotyping. Freedom of speech inherently includes all other fundamental human rights. Hence, as acknowledged through natural rights, other rights and personhood should adamantly be included within this scope of this protection. Hate speech is a limit on free speech, as it not only puts the victim under deliberate psychological and physical harm, but also silences them, and hence to prevent hate speech one needs to foster free speech.
Freedom of Speech is a human right. It is an extension of our autonomous nature and action. Free speech is about everyone having a level platform, not privileging any one voice above others. It is a right for everyone, not only those who have the loudest voices or sound most eloquent but a freedom to which all should have access. It means that everyone is given an equal weight when getting their ideas across. The point of free speech in a democracy is to allow progress and give citizens an opportunity to question authorities in ways that benefit society. Dissent is welcome in free speech; there is no wrong answer in the way one expresses oneself, as long as one does not bridge others’ rights to do the same. When addressing issues of hate speech, the right to insult someone is not what is in question. It is the fact that hate speech silences the others showing obvious disempowerment of the other in ways that they could not respond. The problem with hate speech is it restricts free speech.
Hate speech restricts free speech because this particular form of speech is ingrained in emotions and as a result is irrational and destructive. Hatred is blind inveterate anger. There is no intrinsic value in hate speech since it does not lead to the development of society. Victims of hate speech are silenced daily, “intimidated and subject to severe psychological and physical trauma by racist assailants who employ words and symbols as part of oppression and subordination.” The intent of hate speech is never to continue a conversation but to end it. Hate speech is neither mere offense of the other, nor the expression of dissatisfaction with people. Offending one another is the price of free society, but that is not what is in question. According to Mari Matsuda, hate speech is a racist speech that has to with “perpetuation of violence and degradation” of minorities. It is unjustifiable freedom that curbs others liberty by stifling their views. It relies on false facts, ignorance and bigoted ideas. As Matsuda contends, even though hate speech does not curtail all speech, it does “inhibits some expression.” Outside the context of hate...

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