Free speech is essential

Commentary
By James Hartley

Freedom of speech is often viewed as a delicate subject. We don’t want to hurt people’s feelings or offend someone with our words. We sure don’t want to use anything that could be considered hate speech.
However, it’s wrong that we’ve come to the point in our culture where we are so easily offended by the words and actions of others that we want to limit the free speech of fellow Americans.
The growing desire for political correctness is a danger to our natural human rights. It’s prompted the creation of terms like “micro-aggression,” where even the small things a person says or does can be seen as racist or sexist and thus offensive.
A disclaimer before we really get into this: I do believe in being courteous toward others. And I believe being sensitive toward the feelings and situations of others is important.
The Bill of Rights outlines the freedoms granted to us by the “Creator,” as the founding fathers said in the Declaration of Independence.
For those who don’t believe in a Creator, they were saying the same thing as John Locke: that the rights of a man [or woman] are natural. They are not granted by the whim of a monarchy or other form of government. Every human being, born or unborn, has the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Locke said it as life, liberty and property.
It is no coincidence that the first of the protections in the Bill of Rights are the freedom of religion, speech, the press, assembly and petition. This overall right of expression is essential in order to fulfill all three of the natural rights.
To do anything to limit another person’s right to free speech is an attack on their natural rights. It does not matter if that person’s speech is hateful, mean, offensive or in any other way undesirable.
If an individual wants to use a derogatory term to describe a white person, let them do so and face not legal consequences but rather social ones. The same thing goes for anyone using derogatory terms about any race. Until it violates another person’s natural rights, it falls into the individual’s own freedom.
The idea of any restriction on speech is absurd. To argue that anyone should be forced to abide by the social construct of political correctness is to remove opportunities for intelligent conversation to take place. It is a hindrance on human communication.
Political correctness is a danger to any communication. Challenging a popular idea or siding against popular belief is viewed as politically incorrect. Standing on unpopular religious beliefs is often called intolerant or hateful, and despite the right that Americans have to those stances, there are calls for limits on voicing beliefs under the guise of hate speech.
The freedom to express what a person wants is the building block of a democratic republic. We see this in the freedom of the press. If we begin to censor ourselves to the point where we are afraid to speak for the risk of offending someone, we are not having our freedom taken away from us, but rather surrendering it to our own desire to make everyone happy.
I believe in man limiting his own speech for moral reasons. We are charged with controlling our own speech. But I also believe that as humans the God of the universe grants us free will. The founding fathers shared the belief that our rights are granted to us by something more than just the will of a ruler. Because of this, it is not the place of any government or institution, nor the place of another person, to limit an individual’s right to self-expression.