If peoples’ feelings become the metric by which we determine what should be said or not said, then the feelings of our rulers will take precedent and ensure the type of censorship the First Amendment was designed to avoid.
Follow me down this rabbit hole… It is not for the faint of heart.
Let us be clear. Freedom of speech protects hate speech. It protects all types of speech, even ones threatening violence. There is absolutely no hint of differentiation between types of speech in Amendment 1 of the Bill of Rights:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
These laws were written by men who had just fought a foreign colonizer for their sovereignty. They wrote essays and pamphlets for the direct purpose of organizing a militia to fight the forces of their colonizer with violent purpose. So the idea that all speech is protected except those intended to promote violent actions is an absurd fabrication.
There is a certain section of society which would restrict speech for the purpose of protecting peoples’ feelings, and if we continue down that train of logical thought we will see what a fallacy it truly is.
If we establish a cultural precedent by which the protection of peoples’ feelings is more important than the protection of free speech, we will destroy the very point of the principle.
If we establish a set of cultural punishments for the violation of someone’s feelings, such as being fired for saying something which offends someone, we establish a means through which the powerful may silence their critics.
Because if this becomes the norm, we must consider that all peoples’ feelings are equal.
Including those in power.
Meaning if the feelings of a person in power are trod upon they have the right to cultural punishment and retribution in the same way as any other citizen.
This could be exploited by Governors, Senators, and Presidents as a way to bypass the constitution and send the “Culture Police” to attack their critics, resulting in financial and social ruin directed at anyone they decide they don’t like.
This would mean anyone who offends a person or group’s feelings is subject to this punishment, even if in a position of minority.
So what happens if this becomes a cultural precedent?
The inevitable result is that it will backfire against those who preach it by allowing the powerful majority and their representatives to use the same principles to attack those participating in one of this country’s most fundamental rights: Free Speech.
The criticism of the majority by minority groups will be destroyed using the same move they believe to be in their favor.
The law is a tool. It has no bias.
But those who wield it do.
We must persevere. We must steel ourselves against the barbs of our enemies.
If we become emotional and lose our connection to reasonable thought, we lose before the game begins.
The reality of politics and ideological debates is they are not nice. They are not cozy. They will never be “Disney-fied”. Political enemies will always use all available tools to destroy their opposition.
We must protect free speech, even when it makes us uncomfortable.
So if you are unable to listen to free thoughts without rejecting them based on the feelings they produce in you, I have some bad news for you.
You have disqualified yourself from the right to participate in the debate, because you are currently dragging everyone else down.
-The Denver Outsider