Respecting freedom of speech essential to our country

Respecting freedom of speech essential to our country

Sabrina Satterthwaite, Editor-in-Chief

  As Aretha Franklin said, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me,” because lately, I’ve started to wonder if respecting freedom of speech means the same thing to me as what it means to other Americans.

  America’s founding fathers saw the value in freedom of speech and made it the first amendment in the constitution. I don’t think the fact that it is the first amendment is an accident or coincidence.

  Freedom of speech is what our country is built upon. When people voice their opinions, especially ones that are hard to hear, it drives change and improvement. It is as necessary to the success of our country as food on plates is.

  On the surface, freedom of speech is preached and praised by Americans, as it should be. However, sometimes Americans use freedom of speech as the reason behind voicing their opinions and then turn around mock and hate on others who don’t share the same views as them.

  Yes, Americans have the right to hate on others because of freedom of speech, but it is a gross misuse of it. I haven’t chatted with any of the founding fathers lately, but I’m fairly positive this is not how they intended freedom of speech to be used.

  As Americans, we need to not only respect our own freedom of speech but to respect the freedom of speech of others, too.

  A country is just a piece of land if its people stand divided. If we want to be America, we must unite. That doesn’t mean we have to be united in opinion; it means we have to be united as people who respect, support and care for each other despite our differences, and, perhaps, even because of our differences.

  Yes, there are some opinions that shouldn’t be respected. For example, those that encourage illegal or violent acts like murder or rape don’t deserve our respect, nor are they covered by the first amendment according to some Supreme Court rulings. Hate speech has also been ruled against by Supreme Court in some situations, and should not be respected. But for the most part, opinions deserve our respect, regardless of whether or not we think they are “right”.

  So if you disagree with someone, share your opinion respectfully without crossing into hate territory. If someone’s opinion angers you so much that you cannot muster a polite response, WALK AWAY. You can always come back when you’ve calmed down enough to voice your opinion respectfully, or maybe once you cool down you’ll find that you no longer feel the need to respond.

  Words are powerful, whether they bring light to needed topics or drag down others. So please, please, please, wield the gift of freedom of speech cautiously.