Hate Speech vs. Free Speech

“…this concept of hate speech is not at all compatible with free speech.”

I was raised under the axiom, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” That being said, I didn’t always live by it. There were usually some consequences that came along with saying rude or unkind things. So, while I would never try to excuse someone for verbally being a jerk, I would still contend that anyone does indeed have the right to do so. In this country, we enjoy many liberties – free speech is certainly one of the most important. That’s why it’s protected in the 1st amendment.

However, in today’s society of touchy feely and emotionally driven attitudes, it has become nearly impossible to have a traditional opinion about anything without being labeled a hater. Disagree with the ideals of politically correct thinking, and you are accused of using hate speech. This is no exaggeration. You believe in traditional marriage between a man and a woman – hate speech. Say there are only two genders – hate speech. Think America should take care of its homeless and veterans instead of giving free stuff to people who enter illegally – yep, hate speech.

It’s a misnomer, actually. Most people accused of using hate speech don’t really hate anyone. They’re just guilty of having an opinion that differs from the so-called accepted societal norm. The term “hate speech” gets thrown around far too much. People are constantly being accused of having an attitude that they do not have, and it’s all based on how their beliefs and opinions make certain other people feel.

This is where the problem lies. Feelings are subjective. They vary from person to person. Just because something offends someone doesn’t mean that something is wrong, much less that it should be illegal.

In the realm of social politeness, it is important to appreciate other people’s feelings and take them into consideration before saying or doing something that might be taken as offensive. But within the scope of the law and general behavior in a truly free environment, feelings do not matter at all. You cannot legislate based on emotion. It is not fair to impose your own sensitivities upon others.

A fundamental principle of liberty is that one person’s rights end where the next person’s rights begin. Think of it like property lines. My land extends outward until it reaches the border with my neighbor. If my freedom begins to infringe upon the freedom of my neighbor, we have a problem. There are lines that we can’t cross.

Nowadays, there are those who seem to equate disagreement with hatred. I can disagree with you without hating you. But these people act like, if you don’t agree with their opinions, you are just an awful and hateful person. Rather than engage in a thoughtful conversation, they instead accuse you of hate speech.

With such a purely subjective idea of “hate,” it becomes painfully clear that this concept of hate speech is not at all compatible with free speech. We either have the right to believe whatever we want, or we don’t. If you are continually accusing others of hate speech because their opinions offend you, then you don’t really believe in free speech. Remember, in this arena, feelings don’t matter. Offense is subjective. Not everyone will agree with you. Accept it and get over it. That’s just part of life.

It must truly be a miserable existence for those who seem to be constantly getting offended by pretty much everything. Plenty of things offend me, but I don’t choose to dwell on it. Sometimes, we just have to accept things and move on. Offenses don’t have to govern our lives. You can actually choose whether or not to let an offense trigger you into a frenzy. Or, at least, I can. I don’t let other people’s opinions bother me. And I’m a much happier person because of that.

If something really offends you to the point that it makes you feel angry and upset, ask yourself why it bothers you so much. If you want to speak out against it, fine. Freedom of speech is a good thing. But if you think it’s okay to trample someone else’s free speech, try to limit or take it away, or accuse them of hate speech… Don’t be surprised when you meet stern opposition.

People should defend their rights. But no one has the right to not be offended. That’s just silly.

Author: stacemassengill

I'm just a nobody tryin' to tell ev'rybody all about Somebody who saved my soul! Well, I am a blood-bought saint of God - a sinner saved by His amazing Grace! God called me to start Great Commission Ministries online in June of 2011, and that began as a video series called "The GC." After 7 seasons of that web-series, I felt led to expand the ministry to blogs as well as a new video series I call "67 seconds of Encouragement." This site is home to my blogs, and my prayer is that it ministers to everyone who reads it. Please share this ministry with others and help spread the Good News of Christ!

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