There are limits to our freedom of speech. Yet, after recent events, many have argued that the United States should place further restrictions on it. Here are some reasons why we should NOT do that:
- Censoring hate speech will not eradicate hateful thoughts. It will just drive it underground, dangerously pushing some people to resort to violence faster and earlier. It is better to let people vent out their unreasonable, irrational, senseless, and hateful ideas – through Internet discussions or civilized protests – instead of forcing them to hide their true opinions and become resentful and violent.
- We want to know who the haters are: who thinks Nazism is appealing, who hates Muslims and Jews and people of color. We really want to know that.
- It is a slippery slope. Today we might restrict some legitimate hateful speech, but tomorrow someone else might want to restrict whatever he or she considers “hateful,” as a means of repressing any political dissent.
- We have to have faith in our society. We are better than this. We are mostly good-hearted individuals who should enjoy freedom of speech, the tenet of our democracy. Further restrictions are unnecessary. Just look at all the peaceful counter-protests going on this week, overshadowing the repulsive white supremacist rhetoric. Let’s aim for that: a society that enjoys broad freedom of speech rights and uses this right in a noble way.
- If we really love and defend freedom of speech, we should love and defend it even when it hurts. It is easy to defend freedom of speech when we like what we are listening to. It is harder when the words we are hearing hurt us deeply – but that is when we should defend it the most.