Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
When we hear anything about freedom of speech, we directly link it with human rights. Something every citizen should feel free to use. Something everyone should possess power over. But we may not right in this case. I know and I believe that humans should have the liberty to stand up for what they believe in. they should get to say anything that needs to be said in a democratic state. That is something our ancestors fought for a long time and we need to protect it. But did we take it in the wrong direction? Are we using this right to defend ourselves or offend others? There should be a borderline, a barrier, and a clear difference between freedom of speech and hate speech. Yes, they are to differentiate these days, we are exploiting this right and we are unaware of the consequences. Earlier, its main motive was to speak up for our rights but now it is something we use as a pawn o blurt out controversy if not hate promoting content.
We cannot just throw racial remarks on a person in the subway, we cannot yell ‘fire’ in a movie theater and we certainly cannot blurt out religious blasphemous content to a stranger. These are all immoral. But are they illegal? If we say that we have freedom of speech then all of this should be okay. But it is not. We should have the boundaries stopping us from stooping so low.
Hate speech, which is referred to as a part of freedom of speech, carries no rationality. Haters cannot have a solid argument. You can expect a non-believer extremist atheist to give a wisdom-filled argument on religion. He/she will put forward the most controversial content out there. But a normal atheist may claim some solid points in a progressive and liberal tone. So here lies the main difference between two mixed-up terms i.e. freedom of speech and hate speech.
Professing and propagating hate will only incite violent reactions. Online hate speech has become a normal trend in today’s world. One can abuse verbally by giving death threats, by forcing weak-minded people to suicide, and by abusing people in comments using slurs and racial remarks (Reilly 2017). Social media users are exploiting this right in the most horrible way possible; they are the young generation who know nothing about how this right has been achieved. They are hiding behind fake identities and made-up accounts. This hinders authorities to take action against them.
Nearly one-third of the world’s population uses social media. This mass movement towards the use of media has made people insensitive. People are more inclined towards religious extremism, racism, body shaming, and ethnic shaming. They use social media to popularize their hateful opinions without having the fear of consequences (Laub 2019).
In 2015, when a shooter mass murdered a nice black religious worshipper in June, something horrible came into the light for investigators. This incident in America gave chills to people as they learned that all this happened because social media use of that killer encouraged and paved his way in planning this attack. White supremacist attacks have been going around and discussed in groups and communities made online. Where people with hatred against a community or religion were encouraged to take violent steps. That shooter too was involved in a “self-learning process” and performed his act against the worshippers. This gives a prime example of how free speech is more dangerous unsupervised than being useful.
Free speech can be hurtful and insensitive. We all know that 9/11, the holocaust, and the tsunami were some horrible incidents and disasters. People have been making jokes and memes in-person and on media now and then about them. This insensitive behavior leads to hurting people and their sentiments. People lost their loved ones to these incidents. Blurting out content on how they are funny, fake, and hilarious these incidents is offensive. We can avoid these kinds of situations where freedom of speech may hurt others. We should not engage in conversations that can spark any controversy. But if there is an opinion that needs to be addressed and you have legitimate points. Make sure you are directing it to a reasonable audience. The audience is tolerating and accepting of new ideas and supports society’s benefit.
Wrong use of freedom of speech should be reported as soon as possible. People misusing social media should be reported, banned, and removed in a nick of time. People using freedom of speech to marginalize and border people into seclusion. It is inappropriately used to make certain races and religions socially excluded. They are forced to feel left out and unfit to avail of any basic rights and privileges as others (McKenna 2014). Hate speech is considered affecting and we people assume that we can ignore it. But this is not the situation. It can make people suffer in silence, making them opt for suicide and forcing them to confine themselves at home. this is not harmless or ignorable but agonizing and nerve-testing.
Free speech should promote honesty, truth, harmony, and respect for each other, everyone should have the right to make an opinion and incline their liking. They should have the right amount of freedom to express themselves and raise questions or threats if needed. But the boundaries should be nice and clear. Every person should use moral language and ethical content to address any problem. There should be an age restriction, people too young to make decisions should not be making comments on what they have limited knowledge on. Racial and religious remarks should be prohibited at costs. People should be judged on their abilities rather than their facial features and background.
We do have certain examples where people are restrained in limits to avoid violence. Germany, Netherlands, and Israel strictly prohibit the use of any speech that promotes or demotes the holocaust. They have rules and laws that make people restricted from using mass murders and genocide conversations as a cause of the disturbance. France also has a no mercy rule on this same issue (Levush 2019).
We are not some mindless kids that should be told what to do and what not to do in each matter. But we do need moral guidance. We do need proper counseling at school and we do need to be more tolerant of each other’s differences. All democratic countries promoting freedom of speech should look ahead of them. A time where no one can be stopped from making any remarks harmful and destroying. From people burning the Quran in Norway to people getting killed in a mosque. From acid being thrown on black people to stripping people off of their clothing. All traces back to the freedom of expression and speech being used horrendously. There should be limitations, there should be restraints and there should be boundaries. These laws and rules make us human and we need this humanity now more than ever.