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Regardless of Ideals, Free Speech Should Not Be Hindered

Vicky Aguilar

Vicky Aguilar

Jaimelyn Cruz, Staff Writer

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   According to the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, Congress cannot make a law “abridging the freedom of speech” (cornell.edu). Many Americans have seen this right as a necessity to protect individual freedom. However, this unalienable right has some limits, and recently we have seen an increase of people urging the government to increase regulations on free speech. With that in mind, to what extent should one be able to voice her or her opinion?

  To start off, there are types of speech that the First Amendment does not protect. According to the United States Courts website, you can’t incite actions that will harm others, make or distribute obscene materials, or advocate drugs at school-sponsored events. What may be more surprising to people, however, are the things you are allowed to say under the First Amendment. Some of the most radical freedoms include symbolic speech, such as describing the burning of the American flag, or even defending racist ideology (uscourts.org). Should the government put more regulations on free speech?

  Here’s the thing: America is a country full of diverse people, and with a diverse population comes diverse ideas and opinions. Some may say that these ideas and the freedom to voice them may be divisive. This can be seen with the very different views of liberals versus conservatives, especially now with the change of administration. We’ve seen this divide in the riots at UC Berkeley, in which a confrontation between protesters and the attendees of a pro-Trump rally eventually led to violent engagements between the clashing groups (latimes.com).  

  Setting aside liberal or conservative beliefs, the people attending this rally had the right to “peaceably assemble,” and this right shouldn’t have been impeded, especially through violent means (uscourts.org). Whether assemblies are organized to fight for women’s equality, oppose an executive order for a travel ban, or support our country’s president, all of these different causes have one thing in common: they show activism in our country and in our government, the very thing our founding fathers fought for. These activists show that Americans recognize that our country is nowhere near perfect. Their ability to recognize this is necessary to improve our society, which is why the government shouldn’t be allowed to further constrict free speech.

  Indeed, the First Amendment should be extended to all individuals equally, even if — maybe especially if — people’s opinions are greatly opposed by others. Junior Patrick Dela Rosa stated, “I believe people have the right to say what they want, with the only exception being direct threats of violence. Even racists and bigots should be able to stand on podiums the same way activists and protesters get to… People should have the right to say what they believe, and if we disagree, then we should debate in a civilized manner. Everyone deserves to speak.” By allowing even racist and bigoted people to voice their beliefs, we allow the rest of the world to see the most fatal flaws in society. And lucky for us, the First Amendment allows virtuous people who oppose these biased and unjust beliefs to say something right back.

  We are always going to hear things we disagree with. However, there are also always going to be people who agree with each side of an argument. We can utilize these different perspectives to come up with the most fair solution. Of course, this won’t result in people holding hands around a campfire singing Kumbaya — but these heated debates shouldn’t be hindered by government regulation. Different ideas lead to different solutions, and though they may vary in success, they all deserve to be heard.

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Regardless of Ideals, Free Speech Should Not Be Hindered