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Racist Speech Should Not Be a Freedom

Updated April 21, 2022
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Racist Speech Should Not Be a Freedom essay

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Racist speech should not be protected by the first amendment. Racist speech is a form of speech that criticizes a person, or a group based on their race, religion, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, disabilities or sexual orientation. As, Charles R. Lawrence III believes: racist speech is only delivering devastating pieces of information to the minorities. These messages are extremely awful and make them think that they are inferior to others and that they are “second-class citizen” (72).

The first amendment is a voice for the voiceless. It protects minorities from being misused by the majorities. It creates that equal boundary between both sides. Everyone has the right to express themselves and be heard. The significance behind it is that everybody’s opinion matters. However, there are many speeches that are not considered free speech. They are not protected by the first amendment, such as fighting words, obscenity, child pornography, threats and more. Shortening the first amendment is effective because it keeps the community safe in many ways. Racist speech should belong to this category. This reduction is not enough.

For a better understanding of this issue, our society needs to comprehend the meaning and differences between harmful and offensive. A harmful conduct might involve violence or physical abuse. Harming someone might incorporate pain or injury. You are really damaging that person physically. Attacking someone just based on their race, sex, or religion would be considered as a harmful conduct. Offensive conduct is when you hurt someone emotionally. You say stuff that makes that person uncomfortable or feel inferior to others. It is like you are deeply hurting that person. Upsetting someone or making them angry would be seen as an offensive conduct.

About free speech, limiting any form of speech is not a solution. It will only create more disagreement in our society. People will always have their ways of seeing things and somehow need to express it. When it comes to racial issues, there should be certain regulations to free speech. Everyone has the right to say what he or she wants but not in the way to harm people or making them feel inferior (Lawrence, On Racist Speech 75). No matter who you are you should not segregate or abusively express that someone is little worth. For example, banning some speeches like hate speech on a college campus would create a conflict because they would fire back with their first amendment right.

Hate speech should not be protected, no matter the way you use it. Words that you say have an influence on your surroundings. Many of us do not really realize that. You might be jokingly shouting offensive words with your friends, but unintentionally harming someone else. Stuff that you are saying might make them feel inferior to others. That has happened to me so many times.

The government is doing their best in trying to eliminate racist contents that make a difference between people, especially minorities and blacks. So if they are doing that, I don’t know why racist speech should be protected by the first amendment. Why should it be viewed as free speech if the government is working to exclude or limit racist subjects in our society? Why would it be okay for someone to call someone else by the “N” word if the government says not to do so? The protection of free speech by the first amendment, enables the government to cross some boundaries or even disrespect or discriminate against a certain race or group. Nowadays, It is very common in our society (“ Should the First Amend…” Bottom line)

Let’s go back to July 30, 2018, when LeBron James was interviewed by Don Lemon on CNN about his new foundation in Ohio. Following his interview on August 4th, 2018, president Donald J. Trump tweeted: “LeBron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!” (“Here Are 10 Times…” LeBron James). Both of these men are African American, so the president tweeting this, demonstrated that he was criticizing Blacks. I acknowledge this as bullying. He was making fun of African American. Connecting the word dumb to colored people is offensive. Just because we are African American that does not make us dumb.

President Donald Trump used a crude description to refer to Haiti, El Salvador and other African countries during a talk about immigration in the Oval Office in January (“Here Are 10 Times…” qtq. in Washington Post).’ Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?’ he reportedly told the lawmakers (“Here Are 10 Times…”Shithole countries). From my knowledge and after talking to others, I heard that he wants more immigrants from Asia because he thinks that they will be more economically helpful to this country. I am Haitian and when I heard about this I felt inferior to others. I started examining where I came from. Am I not like others? His words influenced many people from these nations. Everyone was getting at him for saying such thing. If I had to ask him why he referred to those countries as “ Shithole”, I think his response would surely be: “ It is free speech, I have the right to say what I want.” This is another example of why hate speech should not be defended by the first amendment.

Some words can really hurt somebody and can indeed lead to violence or physical harm. Everyone defines things uniquely. Their point of view might seldom depend on their backgrounds, where they came from or new beliefs after talking to others. So, I believe that exercising racist speech toward others might lead to worse. Practicing irritating speeches to an extreme might provoke terrifying circumstances that result in serious outcomes.

After all the group discussions, I understood that talking to our society and teach them about how their opinion is offending others would be useful. Inform them about their rights to free speech and guide them on how to use these rights without harming or offending anyone. Educate them on how to correctly use that right. Most people know that they have free speech but never really explore how the first amendment works or what it covers. They need someone to instruct them on that matter. They should be ready to learn about their right and their culture, that is one of the first steps in making our society a better place.

Works Cited

  1. Hayes Chrystal. “Here are 10 times President Trump’s comments have been called racist.” USA TODAY, 14 Aug 2018, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2018/08/14/times-president-trump-comments-called-racist/985438002/ Accessed 9 Oct 2018.
  2. Lawrence III, Charles. “On Racist Speech.” Current Issues and Enduring Questions, 11th ed. Pp. 71-75.
  3. Perez, Talia. “ Should the First Amendment cover Racism and Hate Speech.” The perspective, 2018. https://www.theperspective.com/debates/politics/first-amendment-cover-racism-hate-speech. Accessed on 7 Oct 2018.
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Racist Speech Should Not Be a Freedom. (2022, Apr 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/racist-speech-should-not-be-a-freedom/

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