Besides guns, beer, and football, the First Amendment is by far the most cherished luxury of the American people. With this amendment we are legally permitted to openly criticize our nation’s leaders, protest, burn the flag, spew hate speech, the list goes on. From that list, it seems as though the only thing First Amendment advocates on Facebook choose to defend is hate speech. A group of people peacefully assemble in Washington D.C.? “Gosh darn, those whiny liberals!” Someone angrily burns the United States flag during a protest? “What an unpatriotic, sorry excuse of an American!” Your uncle posts an Islamophobic meme on Facebook? “It’s his First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech!”
Hate speech, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, is defined by Merriam-Webster as speech expressing hatred of a particular group of people. In the First Amendment there’s nothing that says hate speech is an exception or punishable by law, but there are social repercussions for it that need to be enforced by everyone.
Milo Yiannopoulos, Senior Editor at Breitbart News, has begun his latest mission by speaking at liberal college campuses all over the United States to convince students why political correctness, feminism, Black Lives Matter, and social justice are “toxic to free expression.” He recently had to cancel his events at University of California Berkeley and other college campuses because of a small number of students who began acting out violently in protest to his presence on campus.
Yiannopoulos has singled out transgender students during his events, been banned from Twitter for participating in the online harassment of Leslie Jones in 2016, and even called himself the “most fabulous super-villain on the Internet.” He criticizes those who oppose him, yet fails to realize that while he has the right to say what he wants, we have just as much of a right to call him out for his rhetoric. Call us snowflakes, call us whiny liberals, but we won’t stop fighting for what’s right. And until the fight against hate speech and ignorance is over, expect to hear a lot more from us whiny snowflakes.
Like it or not, mouthpieces for the Extreme Conservative movement, like Milo Yiannopoulos, Tomi Lahren, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity, are necessary in today’s society. However, they are not needed in the sense that they offer different opinions, they’re needed because they set an example. We need them so that we can constantly remind ourselves that we still have a long way to go; we need to strive to make this world a place in which every person can freely express themselves. No, I’m not including Neo-Nazis living in the United States in the previous statement because they already freely express themselves. I’m saying every person should be able to walk outside without worrying about being attacked for their sexual orientation, skin color, religion, and gender.
If we allow hate speech to become normal, we will be doing everyone a disservice. Absolutely no one will benefit from this type of behavior because the world will become a much uglier place which will inhibit freedom of expression for everyone. It is our duty to call attention to intolerance and hatefulness not just as citizens of the United States of America, but as human beings. Those who are hiding behind their screens in a state of complacency are contributing to the problem. Speak out in protest of hatred and bigotry. Hold those who spew hate speech accountable. Do your part.
I’m Olivia Lepage (’19) from Westland, Michigan studying Communications and Film. I currently live in the F/M area year round and consider this tundra my second home. I sing Alto 2 and am President of Cantabile, I work at the Circulation Desk in the Carl B., and I do shows with Concordia Theatre as much as I can without spreading myself too thin. Chocolate chip cookies are my only weakness.