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Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech

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Freedom of speech has all kinds of interpretations, but how far does it go until it deemed as hate speech? Freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment which preserves freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech. Some people hate speech universal notion that really had no definition while others deem it as not free speech due to the ideology of hate being exhibited. I disagree, hate speech is not free speech. Anything out of alignment with our ideology is hate, and therefore not free speech. Freedom of speech is not actively being allowed to be racist, and or causing or posing a danger or threat to anyone. Hate speech is not free speech, individual citizens calling out racism is not government censorship. Freedom in a free society is to be free to everyone and calling out someone of their skin color, their preference, or way of actions in a disrespectful way is not ‘free speech’. It is a form of violence that can be considered as an expression, and or an attack that people act upon and claim it as ‘free speech’. The use of hate speech affects the brain and it activates thought. Language can change how the brain thinks, for better or for worse. George Lakoff, Professor Emeritus at UC Berkeley started in A Medium Corpo article that, ‘Hate speech changes the brains of those hated for the worse, creating toxic stress, fear, and distrust — all physical, all in one’s neural circuitry active every day. ‘ He goes on to say that the verbal aspect of this internal harm can be more dangerous than a fist fight. It imposes the freedom to think and therefore act free of fear, threats, and distrust.

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For an example, the Charlottesville riot when the convicted murderer, James Alex Fields acted upon his free speech during a vehicle-ramming attack. Lakoff also goes on to explain that “Hate speech imposes on the freedom of those targeted by the speech” and try considering living in a free society requires not “imposing on the freedom of others, hate speech does not fall under the category of free speech. ” This explains the Charlottesville situation quite well. The attacker put the citizens in danger as he was planning out his hate speech in an action. A lot of people like to talk about free speech without even understanding hate speech is the opposite to free speech – hate speech directly promotes and enforces inequality (that is, oppression) which means the words of the oppressed will be discarded. There is no free speech for the oppressed as long as hate speech is authorized, for this authorization means the words’ importance is hierarchized. (Plus privileged categories have privileged access to media, by definition. ) Furthermore, ‘absolute free speech’ is actually absolute free speech for the privileged and the powerful – the ones who can say whatever they want without ever facing consequences, the ones who don’t are at risk of being killed because of their gender or the color of their skin, the ones who won’t get fired for saying terrible things. Meanwhile, oppressed people face and will always face a lot of constraints to their speech – invisible walls keeping them from expressing themselves out of fear of the exhausting, precarity-inducing, physically dangerous or even mortal consequences.

Although some people might impose the fact that free speech is indeed covered and protected by the First Amendment and everyone has the right to say whatever you want as long as it doesn’t promote physical violence towards a person. As long as what you’re doing doesn’t infringe upon another person’s rights. They could counter argue that emotional hate doesn’t count because anyone can say their feelings are hurt by anything. For example, if someone says ‘homosexuality is a sin’ and they are religious, they claim it is not deemed hate speech if that is what their religion teaches. All in all, this world is very tricky. Freedom of speech can get very tricky in terms of what is deemed as acceptable and what is not. It is up to the person to determine what they find as free speech. Some people just need to be mindful of what they say to a certain person or group because we have flourished as a society and we cannot live in the old times to follow the same rule, it just doesn’t apply to us as much as it used to anymore.

10 October 2020

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