North Texas Daily

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of consequences

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of consequences

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of consequences
July 24
14:00 2020

The First Amendment protects individuals and allows freedom of speech, religion, assembly, press and the right to petition. However, the right to freedom of speech has fallen under scrutiny lately because some individuals believe that freedom of speech means they can say whatever they want to without having to endure consequences. Freedom of speech does not exempt us from suffering consequences on the basis of something we say. 

Everyone is entitled to be able to voice their own opinions, ideas and views without interference from the government. However, once statements that are voiced condone some form of discrimination, racism, homophobia, etc., at that point one cannot expect people to not voice their opinions back or call out these individuals for their negative comments. Individuals are also free to voice their comments on any social media platform but they should also expect that they may face possible backlash if the comments that are made are derogatory, racist, etc.

Individuals also have to understand that regardless of having the right to freedom of speech, there are limitations to what can be said. For example, we cannot yell “fire” in a crowded area like a sporting event or movie theatre because that word is inciting chaos that can lead to someone being injured. If someone were to yell “fire” without there being an actual fire they will face consequences through law enforcement. 

When discussing hate speech or speech that incites violence, you can be held accountable by entities like businesses or organizations. An example of this would be when the baseball team, San Francisco Giants, decided to not associate themselves with former Giants player, Aubrey Huff. Aubrey Huff posted on social media about how he was teaching his son how to shoot guns in case Bernie Sanders won the 2020 election. He also made remarks in which he prompted the suggestion that Americans should kidnap Iranian women and enslave them. Huff claims he was expressing his “political opinions” and making “jokes.” However, there is nothing funny nor political when making statements that discuss enslaving other individuals. This prompted the San Francisco Giants to terminate all association with Huff and the organization unanimously voted him out of the tenth anniversary of the San Francisco Giants’ 2010 World Series Victory celebration. 

What happened to Aubrey Huff is a prime example that freedom of speech does not mean you are free from suffering consequences. The Giants in this scenario had every right to not allow Huff to attend this ceremony. Organizations have the right to choose not to associate with someone based on any negative remarks they make on racial, ethnic, religious or sexual orientation groups. In this case, the Giants were not telling Huff that he couldn’t say these things. Huff is entitled to make racist and derogatory comments on his social media platforms as he chooses to, but the Giants are also entitled to not associate with him either. 

What many fail to understand is that freedom of speech does not mean you can say hateful things and have no one call you out on it. When someone is saying hateful things and is getting called out for it, it doesn’t mean that these individuals are calling out the person based on political beliefs. Hateful speech and political views are not the same things. Hateful speech causes emotional and mental harm to someone meanwhile, political beliefs do not. Many individuals use their political beliefs to hide and not deal with the consequences of their hateful rhetoric. These individuals must understand that the majority of people are not bothered by the fact of whether or not they align with being conservative or liberal. They are bothered about the constant hateful rhetoric that is being put out by individuals and media toward people who are simply being themselves. 

When being called out due to hateful rhetoric, people are not trying to promote censorship. Individuals are also entitled to not tolerate hateful rhetoric and say things against it. Individuals must remember that the First Amendment was created in order to encourage the flow of ideas and communication between people without having government interference. The First Amendment does not protect individuals from being called out by others.

If an individual doesn’t like being called out for their negative comments toward any marginalized group the only solution to this is to not voice those remarks on public platforms. Once those remarks are out on social media platforms at that point anyone has the right and is entitled to comment back and condemn those statements. After all, it is their freedom and right to do so.

Featured Illustration: Olivia Varnell

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Eunice Hernandez

Eunice Hernandez

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