One American Citizen

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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Why Free Speech Isn't Free Anymore

     The freedom of speech is one of the staples in our country. We have the right to basically say and do whatever we want as long as it doesn't infringe on the rights of others. In fact, it was so important to our founders, that they made it the first amendment in the bill of rights. Lets define free speech. The basic definition is that people have the right to freely speak their mind without getting in some sort of punitive trouble as long as it doesn't effect others rights. But what does it really protect? popular speech? No actually. If the freedom of speech only protected popular speech, it wouldn't be necessary to have the right enumerated in the constitution as no one would object to it. The First Amendment protects unpopular speech. It protects those who say or do things that may be controversial. It protects those who express dissenting opinions from the majority. It protects those who may offend others.
     This day in age we have forgotten that. With the advent of "Hate Speech" free speech is dying. Now, there are many types of speech that could be considered "Hate Speech" such as using derogatory terms or wearing clothes with derogatory or disparaging markings. The problem with "Hate Speech" is that it is undefined. There have been many instances recently where a person with an opposing view has been accused of "Hate Speech" and being a racist with no merit to those claims. In order for something to be considered "Hate Speech", and be unprotected by the constitution, it must be able to be demonstrated that it infringed on others rights. An example of unprotected speech would be the case of defamation.
     Nick Sandman, the Covington Catholic student, was swept into controversy when he was videoed at the Lincoln Memorial during the indigenous peoples march. The video appeared to portray the MAGA hat wearing young man to be laughing at a native American man who was beating a drum in front of him. It was even said that he and his fellow students were making derogatory remarks and chanting build the wall at him. The media instantly went into character assassination mode on this highschooler, calling him a racist and a bigot among other things. He and his classmates got doxxed, his parents getting death threats at work, even one celebrity said he had the "most punchable" face. Well as we all know, that's not what happened.  In fact, he and his classmates were doing nothing disrespectful to the man. As is turns out, CNN has settled a defamation lawsuit brought on by sandman for $200 million dollars because of the things that were put on the airwaves by them. Point being, in order for speech, like CNN and the rest of the mainstream media's, to be unprotected by the First Amendment, it must cause actual harm other that offense, as it did in this situation.
     I bring all this up because of the story that hit the news in the UK (although this event is in the UK, it is not isolated to there as it happens all the time in the US). Franklin Graham, was set to appear there but now one of his stops has been canceled because a group for the LGBTQ+ community has labeled his preaching as "Hate Speech" and the venue does not want to take part in it. Now, it is the venue's right to cancel any show they want, but is it okay for his preaching to be labeled as "Hate Speech". I think not and here is why. Franklin Graham is a Christian preacher who preaches the Bible. Whether you like it or not, the Bible does explicitly say the homosexuality is a sin. Some Churches are more open to homosexuals than others, but for those that are not open to it, it's their right. What churches preach is protected by the first amendment. For me personally, the line of protected and unprotected speech is crossed when a church bars LGBTQ members from attending as some churches do. I feel this way because there can be actual damage done to a person who is barred from attending because the choice of whether they want to attend is made for them. It protected speech to simply quote the Bible because everyone has a choice of whether they want to listen to the sermon or not. If you don't like it, you simply tune it out or leave. So, had Franklin Graham, told the LGBT community that they were not welcome, they may have a case. He did the opposite and invited them all to come.
     So what about pastors, churches, florist, cake decorators refusing to participate in weddings for the LGBT community. It is their right to choose not to participate because, by doing so, that could be spiritually damaging for the person providing the service. Just as a church or business can't deny service based on sexual orientation. A person from the LGBT community cannot force them to provide them services if it will have a negative impact on the person. Let's take the christian florist from Washington who has been sued on the grounds of discrimination for refusing to provide flowers to a gay couples wedding. What she did was absolutely protected and the Washington State Supreme Court has got the decision wrong. These two men were long time customers of this woman's business. She never refused to provide them with flowers at any time up until they asked her to provide flowers for their wedding. As a business owner, she cannot refuse her services based on sexual orientation, but she also cannot be forced to be somewhere that may induce spiritual harm  to here. In her mind, homosexuality is a sin and by participating in the wedding, she herself would be sinning. Now, again, had she refused them services for the entire time, the gay couple may have a case but when it comes to violating someones religious beliefs, that's where the speech becomes protected because her rights would have been violated by being forced to participate in the wedding.

     I can come up with examples all day about how free speech isn't free anymore, and I'm sure I will post again about it but we as a society need to take a step back and take a hard long look at life. Is it really that wrong for someone to have different opinions on what is right or wrong, moral or immoral? No it's not. The fact that we have different opinions is what makes life interesting. It is what makes us better. If it were me in these situation, and I am a Christian, I would absolutely provide flowers or a cake to a gay couple for their wedding. It is their choice about who they love. It is not up to me to judge others, that task is left to God on judgment day. But I'm not everyone and others in the christian community have different opinions on that, and again, that is their right. I'll leave you with this thought, What would this world look like if we all had the same opinions about everything?

-American Citizen
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