Thursday, June 11, 2015

Chidike Okeem ― The ‘Freedom of Speech’ Farce

The idea of freedom of speech is perhaps one of the most overused—and abused—constitutional concepts in American society today. Whenever someone is justifiably criticized for using offensive speech, the First Amendment right to free speech is almost invariably cited. The first point that many seem to show immense difficulty understanding is that the Constitution restricts the actions of the government when dealing with citizens. Breathlessly citing the constitutional right to free speech outside of the correct context of addressing the government’s desire to quash the speech of citizens is nonsensical. Moreover, it is generally those who cite “freedom of speech” whenever people disagree with their offensive speech who are trying to shut down debate. People have the right to make offensive remarks, just as others have the right to say that those remarks are abhorrent. Dissenting speech is also a part of free speech. Many think that free speech entitles them to say offensive things without having to deal with the consequences of anyone being offended. While the Constitution protects the right to offend, the Constitution does not protect people from censure and other social consequences of being deliberately offensive.

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