Some Forms of Speech Should be Restricted: An Argumentative Essay

The First Amendment allows for freedom of speech in America. This protects people for giving their own opinions and ideas. However, the law does not specify the type of speech that needs to be protected. It highlights that any form of speech in the street is avoidable by the victim, so it should not be restricted. The main reason for the First Amendment is to enhance freedom of speech and democracy in the American society. Those who support the protection of speech argue that restricting some forms of speech is against the guiding principle of a free society. These proponents of protection of speech argue that protecting some forms of speech and restricting others will prevent some members of the society from practicing their democratic rights and raising opinions and ideas for the sake of the country. Those who oppose the First Amendment argue that protecting speech may lead to propagation of injustices such as insults, assaults, victimization and hate speech in the society; hence causing inequality in the society. Such forms of speech as racist and sexist speech may deny some people equal opportunities as members of the American society. This essay argues that some forms of speech such as sexist and racist speech should be banned while others like protesting speech in the streets or any other public place should be protected. This ensures that the fundamental rights of freedom and democracy in the free society are upheld while at the same time enhancing equality for all citizens regardless of their race, ethnicity or sex.

One of the well known writers who contributed to the topic of freedom of speech is Richard Delgado who wrote Hate Cannot be Tolerated. Delgado (2006) suggests that universities and businesses in the United States have adopted various speech codes and harassment mechanisms to minimize racist and sexist speech. Delgado also argues that racist and sexist speeches should be regulated in universities and businesses if because they are always offensive and they create stressful environment. The writer suggests that universities have initiated hate speech codes in response to increasing incidences of racist and sexist speeches. He argues that such universities do so because racist and sexist languages interfere with educational opportunities of the affected students.

Tina Dupuy wrote Freedom of Deplorable Speech. She suggested that some forms of speech such as picketing (protesting) and deplorable speech should be protected by the law in order to maintain the principle of freedom of speech. Dupuy (348) claims that people should let others say heinous things and accept government’s inaction against them in order to promote freedom of speech. Dupuy uses the example of Westboro Baptist Church led by Pastor Fred Phelps which engages in picketing speech, especially in funerals of US soldiers. Dupuy suggests that the soldiers are dying because the US encourages homosexuality. Dupuy argues that what the church does is disgusting but it is also a sign of freedom in America.

One of the main points on freedom of speech is that hate speech related to racist and sexist language should be banned in schools, business areas and other places where the opportunities of some citizens may be interfered because it denies students their opportunity and right to education. Racist and sexist speech often contributes to interference of personal rights. It denies students their opportunities of education and causes emotional injuries to the victims. There are various instances in which the rights of access to opportunities for some women and some students of certain races have been victimized through racial and sexist hate speech. One of the examples is the when a Latino or Black student are threatened using racial language in schools. For instance, Blacks are always told, “you do not belong here”. This incident discourages students from attending universities; hence denying them the opportunity to study in the university and acquire relevant education to help them gain knowledge and skills needed for them to earn a living through work and other issues of life. Schools that provide an environment of hate which is usually stressful and unbearable for the victims. The students do not find the learning environment conducive enough. As a result, they end up quitting the school or failing in their exams. The number of students from the discriminated and minority races in affected universities reduces significantly and the performance of the students who choose to remain in such schools also declines. In both cases, the students may not get the opportunity to enjoy their right to education like any other American citizen.

Although proponents of protecting speech argue that freedom of speech is important in the free American society, such a freedom of speech also contradicts with the right of American citizens to receive education. Therefore, these forms of speech should be banned on the ground that they go against the right of opportunity for all people in US regardless of sex, ethnicity or race.

Secondly, racial and sexist speech should be banned because it enhances inequality in the society. For those who spend their time in schools with racial and sexist speech, life is difficult because they feel less equal in the society. For example, women who are not allowed to take certain jobs or female students who are not given the chance to participate in class discussions may feel unequal in the society. As a result, they do not contribute anything in their learning or business environment. This denies them the opportunity to learn equally with others or even engage in the development of the country. Racial and sexist speech denies students and some business peoples their chances of being part of the society. This promotes inequality and injustice to certain minority groups. The American society has been faced by a big dilemma – the dilemma of maintaining a free society and enhancing equality. The laws that enhance freedom of speech often contradict with laws that seek to promote equality in the American society. While it seems necessary to allow people to enjoy their freedom of speech, it is also necessary to promote equality am among all members of the society in terms of business opportunities, education opportunities, and political opportunities.

All races need to enjoy the fruits of our free society, and that can be achieved by regulating racial speech. This is because racial speech often limits the ability of minority groups to contribute equally to the economic, social and political activities of the societies. For instance, if a black student is told that he does not belong to a school dominated by whites, he/she will feel unequal, distressed, and discouraged. As a result, he/she may not be able to participate successfully in the school’s learning activities. This indicates that such a student is denied her right to participate in educational activities. The opportunity to get equal education deludes him and his life may not be equal to the life of other white students. Diversity is also an important aspect that needs to be protected in the American society in order to achieve equality. The courts often consider hate-speech courts as unconstitutional, but they still protect victims on the basis of accommodating diversity and regulating the behaviour of bullies and bigots. To promote equality, victims of racial and sexist speech need to be protected. The American society is guided by the principle of equality; so racial and sexist speech which makes others less equal should be banned.

Thirdly, protesting speeches perpetuated in public places should be protected because they demonstrate the opinions or ideas of individuals or groups in the society; hence promoting freedom of speech. For example, political classes often picket in political rallies in order to show their dissatisfaction of the services offered by the ruling party. The picketing speech is just a way through which the political class may choose to give their opinion concerning certain issues of governance and leadership.

Sometimes the protesting speech of some politicians may look like incitement or hate speech; but in the free society they have the right to offer their opinions in their own ways. The public will choose whether to listen to them or not. It does not matter how one expresses his/her opinion in the public in a free society. As long as members of the society have a choice to avoid listening to their speech, members of the political class have the right to picket in public. Politicians may also demonstrate love by informing citizens that they will suffer due to bad leadership if they choose to vote for certain political groups. The law of democracy allows people, including politicians, to protest in the American society because it is one of the ways that people choose to give their opinions.

Religious groups may also protest in public places as long as they do not cause harm in the process. Like any other member of the society who provides his opinions on certain issues, religious leaders may also choose to protest if they believe that that is the best way they can give their views in the public. Protesting in terms of speech does not often result in offensive or stressful environment like racial and sexist speech. Those who may feel offended should keep off the streets because we are in a free society. In this regard, picketing or protesting speech should be protected because it enhances freedom of speech.

Indeed, there are some forms of speech that need to be protected and others that should be banned. Racial and sexist speech need to be banned and restricted because they promote inequality and they prevent some members of the society from accessing their fundamental rights of using opportunities provided to them like other members of the society. On the other hand, some forms of speech such as picketing or protesting should be protected because it enables all members of the society to give their opinions and ideas without restrictions. Picketing or protesting is just one of the ways in which members of the society communicate their ideas; and as long as others have the opportunity to avoid listening to the speech, picketers and protesters have a right to picket or protest in the free society of America. Picketing promotes freedom of speech and democracy.



Works cited

Delgado, Richard. 2006. “Hate Cannot Be Tolerated.” In Gary J Goshgarian. Exploring    Language. London: Longman. 2006. Print.

Dupuy, Tina. “Freedom of Deplorable Speech.” In Gary J Goshgarian. Exploring Language.         London: Longman. 2006. Print.

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