Republicans: Why should the government be allowed to dictate what we can say?

Rachel Walker

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” 

The quote posted above is the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. This is what allows citizens of the U.S. to speak their mind freely and gives citizens the right to peacefully assemble.

America was built on our Bill of Rights, especially the right to free speech. It is sad to see people pushing for restrictions on freedom of speech when this is such a fundamental part to being an American.

Isn’t that supposed to be what is so great about America — not having the government tell you what to say or believe? There are citizens of countries across the world that are at actual risk of being physically harmed for speaking their own mind. These citizens must live in fear every day of choosing what they say, and it being considered wrong.

This is not the platform of America. While hateful rhetoric should not be tolerated by any means, the term “hate speech” is relative; this fact cannot be denied. While you and I can think one thing is hateful, it could have a different meaning to someone else. In fact, the right to disagree with this hateful speech is protected under the First Amendment. This is what makes it hard to put restrictions on free speech.

With recent events in the news about Charlottesville, Virginia, or even here on campus with Turning Point’s “Free Speech Week,” we must realize what is right and what is wrong.  As controversial as Turning Point’s “Free Speech Week” was, they were not wrong to exercise their right to freedom of speech. As stated, they have the right to assemble and speak their mind in a way to show support for an issue such as freedom of speech.

However, the incident in Charlottesville was not something to support. What happened there was total hate speech and went against everything we stand for in the U.S. We, as Republicans, had an instance recently of Twitter taking down Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s campaign ad for being “inflammatory.” This was wrong of Twitter because Blackburn was just exercising her First Amendment right to have this ad on social media.

Not only is freedom of speech a staple to the essence of being an American, but it was what this country was founded on. We must not stand for hate speech, but we cannot tarnish our constitutional rights.

Rachel Walker is the vice president of the College Republicans. Contact her at [email protected].