Free speech applies to everyone


Our First Amendment grants us four unalienable rights as Americans — the freedom of press, the freedom to public assembly, the freedom of religion and, of course, the freedom of speech. Our freedoms allow us a certain level of comfort and ease when communicating our thoughts and beliefs. There are certainly some limitations on free speech. The United States has laws against slander and libel, wherein the speaking party may be arrested or punished if the statement is made with malicious intent, deliberately false information or the intent to defame the person. One needs only to look at Supreme Court cases like New York Times Co. v. Sullivan to see how free speech can be scathing without defaming or malicious. Gitlow v. New York is another case that shows how free speech can be limited if it is dangerous to the state, or seditious in matter.

In Tuesday's column in The Daily Targum titled "Protect Real Freedom of Speech," the author mentions a school faculty member who made remarks about him on Facebook. While the remarks made were arguably inappropriate for a faculty member to make, they were made on a third party site and were out of the University's jurisdiction. The author also mentioned a Facebook status from a student, which supposedly threatened violence against him (the author). While the post in question did not threaten violence, it may also have been considered inappropriate.

The author has every right to be offended and seek remedy. I do find delectable irony, however, in the spectacle that has become our protection — or lack thereof — of free speech. Instead, it's been substituted with "pretty free" speech. By this I mean that free speech is tolerated, but frowned upon if it's negative. While any author is free to be offended by critiques of his/her work, writing style, political or religious views, it is simply not acceptable to censor that free speech to curtail the author's offense.

Everyone in this country has the right to be offended by anything. However, what can be considered offensive is a fickle, grasping-at-straws attempt to make objective a sense that is utterly subjective.

The movement to censor free speech is surprisingly growing. After James Hoffa's speech at the White House, Republican pundits exploded onto the scene, decrying the horror of images of violence in his speech, claiming it was inappropriate for him to urge voters to "take out those son-of-a-bitches [sic]" in reference to the tea party. However, none of these pundits seemed to care when Sarah Palin's website had crosshairs over Gabrielle Gifford's name for senators to "take out," or when Ted Nugent appeared at a concert saying things about President Barack Obama and Democratic senators that frankly, I can't put into print — and yes, I do realize the irony of that last statement. Even abroad, many countries with free speech are being pressured into censorship. British Parliament is under constant pressure from a growing Conservative Muslim population into censoring anything negative about Islam or the Prophet Muhammad. While the three instances I've brought up range from personal, to political, to religious, they all march under the common banner of "I'm


Cody Gorman

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Targum.