Stop Trying to Justify Hate Speech as Free Speech

The recent neo-Nazi riot in Charlottesville, Virginia may have finally made people more aware that racism is still alive and won’t be going away any time soon. As Americans have been discussing the horrific event, many are on the fence about whether white supremacists should be allowed to express their bigoted opinions or not.

The first amendment grants every American the freedom of speech, but does that really mean people can blurt out whatever they want without facing any consequences? The freedom of speech is a huge separation between a free country and a dictatorship, but just because someone has the right to say something, doesn’t mean he or she should. While everyone is entitled to individual opinions, there is a difference between having opposing views and literally being a neo-Nazi who incites violence and fear.

The ACLU stated that white supremacists have the right to use their voice even if the organization completely disagrees with their ideologies. In the article, the author also mentions the work the ACLU has done, such as protecting the rights of immigrants and the groups it publicly supports, such as the Black Lives Matter Movement. How can a group that wants to protect people defend neo-Nazis who don’t share the same values? Doesn’t that sound counterintuitive?

Some millennials believe that the government should play a role in what can be said about minorities, showing that they are far more open to change than older generations. However, the 2015 Pew Research Center study found that most Americans think that offensive remarks about minorities should be allowed publicly.

Even if the majority of Americans want hate speech to be regulated by the government, there has to be an effective way to do so and enforce the regulations.

Hate speech should not be justified as free speech. The former is the act of being bigoted and provoking people who have faced oppression while the latter is simply stating one’s own, non-threatening opinion. Defending people who killed a counter-protester while disagreeing with their beliefs is pointless. If you are going to condemn an action or a group of people, do so fully and completely, because the only way to make change happen is to make your voice heard loud and clear.

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Teja is a senior in high school and is passionate about social justice issues and wants to better understand and help solve problems in the South Asian community. In her free time, you can find her reading, creating art, or arguing with conservatives online. You can find her on Instagram @tejasvinim_ and Twitter @TejasviniM_.

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