Freedom of Speech v. Spreading Hate

Several months ago, Caitlyn Jenner came out as transgender, and revealed that she will go forward with a gender reassignment procedure. A few weeks ago, Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for presidency and last week, Donald Trump announced his. Yesterday, the Supreme Court has officially legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states of our country. With all of these monumental events taking place, so much support has emerged from the internet across every social media platform. However, along with all of that support came negativity, criticism, and hate. I hardly ever post anything about my own opinions, but I feel like I need to say something this time.

Let me just preface this rant by saying that I may come across as quiet, without opinions, and overall lethargic to politics and policies. I want to let everyone know that just because I’m quiet about my opinions doesn’t mean that I don’t have them. The reason why I never share my viewpoints on anything is simple: They’re mine and no one else’s, and I don’t want my words to be misconstrued only to be thrown back at me with such judgment and hate, something that I’ve been noticing a lot of lately. I think now, especially with the events that happened over the course of the past few months, I really need to speak up about what I’ve been noticing on the internet.

I respect that people have the freedom of speech. I recognize it, I embrace it, I encourage it. After all, who am I to resent other people’s opinions when I, myself, run a blog that documents all of my feelings, social commentary and opinions? It’s so beautiful that people have their own trains of thought, and they are willing to share their views across such public platforms. What becomes problematic is when these opinions are backed with such a strong foundation of hate and contempt. When these people are called on their negative speech, all of a sudden all defenses are up, and they use the “well it’s a free country, and I have the right to free speech” card. Everything about that statement is true. Yes, you are a free citizen in a free country, and yes, you do have a right to free speech. What you do not have is the right to put others down for their opinions, beliefs, and pile hate comment upon hate comment in order to build yourself up.

Given the events that took place yesterday, I’ll use that as an example of all the hate I’ve been seeing across the internet. The battle to legalize same sex marriage has been ongoing and has built momentum over recent years. Many have expressed the need for it, while others have been opposed to it. As to which side of that spectrum you fall upon, that’s all on you, and you have the right to your opinion. However, using words like “bigot” and “faggot” isn’t going to make your argument any stronger, nor is it going to make you a bigger person with the better opinion. Retaliating to either opposing viewpoints with such discontent, ignorance, and disrespect will not substantiate your case – all it does is fuel the hate fire, causing bad blood to boil.

In another instance, we have Donald Trump’s announcement for his candidacy for president. His announcement was riddled with offensive comments about other cultures, and as expected, a lot of retaliation took place. While his opinions were conveyed with such belligerence, there’s no denying that his opponents’ responses were, too, fueled with hatred. Calling Donald Trump a criminal is no better than him calling immigrants criminals. As a result, name calling from either side of the dispute has proven to be unproductive – Univision pulled out of broadcasting the Miss USA pageant, and Donald Trump is still running for president. But hey, at least we still have that taco emoji to look forward to.

To many people, this entire rant may sound like a whiney testimony coming from some hippie who goes around singing Kumbaya. Whether or not this is true, let me reiterate that I’m well aware of the undeniable fact that people are always going to have opposing opinions – what kind of society would we live in if everyone had the same opinion? This isn’t about me nor is it about my own opinions. This is about how people share their own opinions and how they react to those of others’, opposing or not. Until people discover the power of acceptance, it will be impossible to stop building the foundation for arguments with hate, and more and more enemies will be made. I don’t want to live in a world where having an opinion is frowned upon, where hostility is the only weapon of choice. Until people discover the power of acceptance, that world starts to become more and more real.

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