Freedom of speech is one of the principles the United States of America was built upon. It is a right that everyone who is born here or steps foot on this land is given. However, many argue that freedom of speech can go too far. My only question: How far is too far?
Everybody is different. Everybody has their own opinions, thoughts and beliefs that do not necessarily coincide with the next person’s. Should one person’s beliefs be discounted or prohibited because it offends someone else? I do not believe so. That goes against what the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees.
There have been several reports of people all over the country being fired over reported posts on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Being terminated, suspended or punished for speaking your mind should not be a crime in a country where the First Amendment guarantees free speech.
People are expected to act professionally when they are in the workplace. Many places even have a certain workplace etiquette that employees must follow. However, when that employee goes home or is on personal time, his or her words should not be used as grounds for punishment.
This did not stop the Philadelphia Eagles team management from firing a gate chief last year for expressing his frustrations about the team’s personnel decisions on Facebook. Even after deleting the post, he received phone calls days later and was terminated.
This goes against every principle of freedom this country is built upon. We as a people should not be subjected to termination because we disagree privately with a superior’s decision. If we are not free to express our individual feelings, then what makes our working conditions that much different than a slave who must adhere to his or her master’s feelings.
However, despite having to theoretically walk on egg shells at work, many people do indeed feel that freedom of speech can go too far when it compromises another person’s rights or beliefs. But people who cross the proverbial line are often met with people who demand consequences and repercussions.
Earlier this year, Dr. Laura Schlessinger on her radio show uttered several racial slurs while trying to make her point during a debate with an incoming caller. This caused a ferocious backlash in which people called for her firing. With all the controversy surrounding the incident, Schlessinger resigned, stating she wanted to “regain” her First Amendment rights.
These are the sensitive topics of discussion that many feel allow people to abuse their right, but they are usually met with public discontent anyhow.
Several “shock jocks” have been suspended, fined or subsequently fired because of racial or sexual comments made while they were on the air, including Don Imus and Tony Kornheiser. Some people would say their comments were racist or sexist. Even if they are, the U.S. Constitution guarantees Americans the right to say them.
Yes, the n-word can be offensive. My questions are: Wouldn’t any self-respecting person also be offended if their boss called them lazy? Should we ban the word lazy?
Words are just words until they are put in a certain context. However, even words taken out of context are just words and cannot be subjected to a banning every time it offends someone. The First Amendment doesn’t take sides. Putting limits on freedom of speech only creates a slippery slope where more and more beliefs and stances become censored, edited or never heard.