From the 1970s, up until the last decade, free speech as been allowed without relatively any danger and no issues, however, recently that has all changed and traditional free idea exchange/speech has been challenged. This may have rooted from the term: “Political Correctness,” this term was only used infrequently until the 1980s, whereas the “The American New Left” began to frequently use this term, however it was still only used ironically and not very recent. In October 1990 an article by Richard Bernstein is released, which is credited of popularizing the term, then in 1991, conservatives started to use the term to envelop their concerns about the left, in both political debate and culture. Finally, George H.W. Bush used the term in one of his speeches as he says that the term arises to sweep away the debris of racism, sexism, and hatred, it actually replaces old prejudice with new ones, as it subjects some topics, expressions, and gestures as off-limits.
Some may also conclude that the issue of exchanging ideas may stem from when there was inequality among different groups of people. As some speech that is made to day might be traced back then. This is where “Hate Speech” comes in, hate speech is a demoralizing thing said about a group of people that either is not true or is based solely off of race or gender. Now, on places like college campuses, they plan to prohibit “Hate Speech”(some have already), however they seem to always broaden hate speech, and say that some speech, that generally would be publicly accepted and not “Hate Speech” would be categorized as “Hate Speech.” Either way, “Hate Speech” is still protected under Freedom of Speech until otherwise changed. This can be seen as Hate Speech is defined as: “ speech that is intended to insult, offend, or intimidate a person because of some trait (as race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability), (Noah Webster). And freedom of speech is defined in the constitution as: “the legal right to express one’s opinions freely” (Noah Webster).
One of the fundamental issues growing in lots of American college campuses is the banning of freedom of speech and the banning of what the colleges deem “Hate Speech.” Over ninety percent of American colleges have policies that could restrict freedom of speech in some way(Daniel Burnett). With over a quarter of the colleges completely trading freedom of speech for a “Freedom of Speech Zone,” where they are only allowed to share what some may deem as sensitive subjects to others in that zone, most of these colleges have also “clearly and substantially” restricted free speech rights(Daniel Burnett). The banning of freedom of speech may not always become an official policy on some of these campuses, however many students will get violent over someone speaking with an opposing idea. This can be seen as when a conservative speaker, Ben Shapiro went to go speak to the UC Berkeley Campus and students. This caused hundreds of protesters, many violent, to attempt to disrupt or stop the speech, that night there were at least nine arrests made, one was even was even being held for suspicion of battery towards an officer. This also showed the clash between two “radical” sides of the political spectrum, however this was little in comparison to what happened in Charlottesville in 2017. In Charlottesville in 2017, there was a “Unite the right” rally, held by many of those on the far right, was first intended to stop all of the recent takdownes of memorials that honored Confederate soldiers and Generals. However most of those moderates were drowned out by a lot of actually white supremacists, neo-nazis, and even a few KKK members. There seemed to not be a whole lot of ruckus until, antifa and many others on the far left came to counter protest. This spurred a lot of unprecedented violence, that led to the murder of 32 year old Heather Heyer. This was caused by a far right neo-nazi, James Alex Fields Jr, trying to run his car into some the counter protesters. All while, many people on the left in America advocated for the revisement of the first amendment, this caused to stir the pot more for the position of getting rid of freedom of speech. Finally, conservative Fox News TV host, Tucker Carlson’s house was attacked and vandalized, with many radical antifa protesters outside surrounding the house, whom at that time Tucker was not inside, however his wife and children were and they were terrorized from this event, luckily no one was harmed, however it may seem ironic that a group named antifa do the one thing they are against, and use fascist tactics to scare Tucker Carlson.
And yes, while on the outside banning “Hate Speech,” or limiting free speech may seem like a good and noble cause, many countries who already are doing this or have already in the past have shown uneasy results. Some examples of countries that limited free speech and did not turn out well was both Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, or Imperial Japan. During Hitler’s rise of power, he implemented a law that prohibited any negative speech about the Nazi Party and eventually made Germany into a one party state, with first freedom of speech being taken away and then many other everyday freedoms. The Soviet Union did this, but in a small difference, as not at first freedom of speech was not very restricted, however once a dictator who could not stand any opposition(Stalin) came into power, he started to kill any of those who spoke up against him, or even those who may not have spoken up against him, but he suspected was talking behind his back. Finally, the emperor of Japan during WW2, Hirohito, had any who opposed him or talked defacingly about him get killed or assassinated, leaving many to fear to challenge the rule of the emperor.
While lots of these examples were more about the extreme side of banning freedom of speech, there are still lots of modern day examples that banning freedom of speech could be terrible. One of these examples is when a UK Mom was arrested for supposedly misgendering a transgender activist on twitter. This was defined as hate speech and an attack on the transgender’s emotions.
Furthermore, it was deemed as malicious communication, as they deemed it fell under criminal laws that protected people from harassment. In the UK there is no freedom of speech, only freedom of expression, which clearly did not stop the UK mother from being arrested for misgendering someone on a social media website. There was also a UK teacher that was accused of “misgendering” a child, and that teacher was told by the police that they commited a crime, a hate crime. There are also many cases in Canada where people have been sued for simply misgendering someone, and have been criminalized for doing so. This may be small, and barely noticeable now, however this could be an issue that grows too out of hand and someone may take advantage of these laws. And while this all may seem uneasy to some or great for others, America is still one of, if not the only country, that protects freedom of speech.
Most importantly, it is important to differentiate freedom of speech and the freedom of expression. Freedom of speech allows for the freedom to speak about anything or anyone openly without any consequences, however freedom of expression is to express one’s ideas freely through speech, writing, and other forms of communication, however without causing harm or hate come to others. That last part is the most important, as many like to use it to screw with what hate speech is if they get offended, as they may say that someone could be verbally attacking them and bringing hate towards them and try to sue the other person over it or even get them arrested.
In summary, freedom of speech seems to be important to protect as many without it could use it as a tool to sue others, or even arrest them. Although, there seems to be a few benefits to banning “Hate Speech,” as mainly hateful or harmful speech would be gotten rid of, it may just cause more damage then it would help. Many push for some legislation to limit freedom of speech, just as seen on campuses, however many ideas on those campuses, that may not be “Hate Speech” are prohibited because of what many try to twist their speech as. Also, the negative effects of limiting freedom of speech can be seen through both more radical historical examples, and modern day examples. As while it may be legal to say something that may offend someone in the United States today, that is not allowed in other countries like the UK, Canada and many other countries. Overall, freedom of speech is important to protect, even if that means that “Hate Speech” and other forms of offensive speech must also be protect, but can still be discouraged from acting on.