by Diane Robertson
Free speech has been under attack for many years now. Any speech deemed offensive is being punished and those punishments are being cheered from all sides of the political spectrum. It seems that Americans no longer comprehend freedom of speech.
The Bill of rights states that Congress shall make no law that abridges the freedom of speech. People may say that congress has not made a law that abridges speech. Congress may not have necessarily made any laws, but if the government or government agencies are punishing people simply because of what they say, then that is the primary way a government would stop free speech. If people are afraid of losing their livelihood by saying certain things in public, they do not have free speech.
Lisa Durden, a pro-black lives matter, adjunct professor at Essex County College was fired after her anti-white comments on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show earlier this month. Durden was rude and her words were racially motivated. Many people found them offensive and called her employer to complain.
However, the opinions Durden expressed were her own and on her own time.
Essex County College is a government run community college. Durden was a government employee. The college fired her with this explanation: “…institutions of higher learning must provide a safe space for students… The character of this institution mandates that we embrace diversity, inclusion, and unity. Racism cannot be fought with more racism.”
Simply put, a government entity fired an employee for offensive words, absolutely abridging her speech and stifling the speech of future government employees.
Punished speech is not free speech.
If, however, Durden had been employed by a private school or business and had signed a code of conduct, the firing would be part of free speech for the private school or business.
I have heard that punishing speech is justified because while speech is free, the consequences of speech are not. If there are consequences, then the speech was not free. It is paid, stopped or stifled through threat of punishment.
I have also heard that racism or in other words racial speech should not be tolerated. Really??? What other speech should not be tolerated?
How much and how severe before there is no such thing as free speech?
Canada just passed a law that could fine or jail or “re-educate” anyone who does not go along with transgender demands. Citizens of Canada must use made up words and cannot say natural things about gender without punishment. I call that tyranny. Canada calls it diversity and love.
Another argument I have heard in favor of punishing speech is that “freedom of speech cannot infringe upon the rights of others.”
How are other’s rights infringed? These are words.
Words do not endanger anyone’s property or body. They cannot kill. The only thing words can do is hurt someone’s feelings. Words should be free. If people disagree, they can walk away, mute the sound, throw them away or even burn the offending words.
Once the government decides one category of speech is intolerable, then they will add another and another. The only safe way is to make all speech free. The founding fathers understood this.