Freedom of speech is more than just saying whatever you think

Freedom of speech is more than just saying whatever you think

Free speech is not just being allowed to say what you’d like to. It also means that you have to listen to what you might not agree with. Lately there have been many different riots on campuses across the country protesting speakers, generally conservative speakers. While everyone is entitled to their opinion and are allowed to protest a speaker, they are not entitled to destroy property and stop someone else from speaking their mind just because they disagree. There are many times where I have disagreed with people’s opinions. Sometimes I do not even want to hear a word that comes out of their mouth or read a word they write, but I will defend their right to say it or write it no matter how much I disagree with it.

There have been too many times where political speech has been shut down by groups that disagree. This is something that the Founders were desperately afraid of. They were so afraid of political speech being shut down that they put it first and foremost in the Bill of Rights that free speech and press are not to be infringed upon, something some people seem to have forgotten recently. There are many forms of speech that are horrible and probably are not something that should be in a public sphere, but as long as there is no imminent threat or danger to people and there is no inciting of violence, I am not here to stop them from speaking.

Speech can be such a tough topic. While it isn’t always easy to listen to what other people say, especially when we disagree, we need to acknowledge that to truly embrace free speech in its fullest, we need to listen to things that might upset us. It’s important to realize that without challenge we are never allowing ourselves to expand and see other views. I like when my views are challenged, and while it doesn’t often change my mind, I am open to listening and knowing what other people’s views are. Until people realize that violently rioting against speakers solves nothing, nobody will get to enjoy their freedom to speak.

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Haley Meyer is an opinion columnist for The Lorian.

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