I believe that we live in the greatest country in the world. Not because we have the highest test scores, or because we have equal rights protection, or because we have the strongest army in the world. All those topics are up for debate. However, one thing that can’t be debated is the fact that we have true, unfiltered freedom of speech. You can say what you want and not be thrown in jail. You can express your beliefs religiously, politically, and morally with or without factual backing and still go unpunished. However, many people in America are starting to misinterpret the meaning of freedom of speech. An acquaintance of mine made a tweet the other day that didn’t sit we me very well. She said “Freedom of speech only applies if your speech isn’t offensive.” Given all the current issues in America, I’m positive she was talking about some form of racism, and even though I agree with her from a moral standpoint that you shouldn’t say hateful things to people just because they’re different than you, I still think she is wrong.
Here in America, we have the freedom to say ANYTHING we want.
On the topic of freedom of speech, John Mills says, “There is the greatest difference between assuming an opinion to be true, because with every opportunity for contesting it, it has not been refuted, and assuming its truth for the purpose of not permitting its refutation.”
I love this quote, because it brings about the idea that just because we don’t agree with an opinion doesn’t mean it is inevitably correct. The great thing about America is that we have the ability to share a vast array of opinions and beliefs, and use this variety of thoughts to establish what the truth is. However, how can we ever reach the truth if we are not willing to open our minds to others’ thoughts?
We’ve been so focused on being politically correct, we care more about not offending someone than we care about helping the people who are really discriminated against. Instead of focusing on solving our problems, we’ve polarized America so significantly between parties, that a negative opinion is immediately formulated in your head when you meet someone who disagrees with you. So instead of focusing on not offending people, or ensuring that people who disagree with you are hammered with hate on social media, I propose we start accepting people for who they are. And I mean everyone. Not just people who share your beliefs. Not just people who need your support because they’ve been discriminated against in the past. We need to start accepting and loving the people we hate, just like the people you already love. That’s includes the Scientologists or Muslims. That includes Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. That includes ISIS. That includes racists. That even includes that kid in your political science class who feels the need to share an uneducated opinion about every political topic brought up in class. We need to start accepting that other people have different views of the world, and love them regardless of our differences in opinion so that we can focus on correcting the real issues, so we can bridge the gap between communities that are well on their own, and be well together.
Written by Jacob Cody, WLLC 2015-2016