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Free Speech Should Not Be Restricted, But With Moral Limitations

November 13, 2017

When it comes to political parties, America is almost evenly split. According to ABC News, “47 percent of Americans identified as Democrats or independent voters who leaned Democratic in 2012, compared with 42 percent who identified as or leaned Republican,” according to a Gallup Poll. But what the media tends to accept is only messages coming from more Democratic parties. But if nearly half of the country does not agree with these messages, how could free speech be properly exercised?

According to the Constitution of the United 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.” That means that congress is not allowed to restrict the right of free speech to anyone regarding topics seen as controversial, such as religion and politics. This right does not diminish anywhere, including college campuses.

Within the past decade, many incidents have occurred in which a student wanted to make a speech regarding their views—mostly alt-right or conservative—and in turn caused violence to break out or intense protests—riots—to occur. Some of these views fall under the category of hate speech. According to Dictionary.com, hate speech is defined as, “speech that attacks, threatens, or insults a person or group on the basis of national origin, ethnicity, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability”. Hate speech is becoming increasingly apparent with increased amounts of racism, homophobia, and other unacceptable forms of discrimination. Hate speech is not considered free speech, and therefore should be severely restricted or, at the bare minimum, limited. Although these views are heavily associated with the Republican party, there are some conservative views that do not target anyone and do not cause intentional harm. These views should have just as much of a right as the more accepted liberal views in American culture. Without this balance, students may not be able to independently “find their voice” without the bias of one particular side.

College is where finding a voice is most crucial. Fresh out of high school, students are able to further discover who they are and learn their values, beliefs, and opinions about certain topics. Unfortunately, “we all face twin temptations: Self-silencing to avoid being attacked…or, to pre-empt that, speaking out too quickly,” according to Forbes.com. In modern culture, students face the pressure to avoid standing up for what they believe is right, especially if it goes against the majority opinion. Students—no matter whether they are Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, or even independent—should not feel as if their opinion does not matter. As long as what they are saying does not promote hate in any way, free speech should not be restricted, especially in places such as college campuses.

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