Exploring the boundaries of free speech: a fine line

illustration shows bill of rights vest

Some say that progress occurs on a “two steps forward, one step back” motion. This means that as people, we tend to make large strides only to have them temporarily halted or taken away by others that don’t necessarily agree with the progress originally taken.

In America, our first amendment right grants us freedom of expression. It is one of our most fundamental rights: to be able to express your opinions whichever way you choose, given that you’re not doing anything illegal in that process. However, when certain people are deliberately spreading bigotry and hate, thereby affecting our country and influencing our masses through media, where do we draw the line?

As the American nation continues to remain split during this new presidential term, we are presented with a whirlwind of people who feel obligated to voice their opinions on certain subjects that they feel strongly about.

When it come to certain controversial topics, freedom of expression can often bring about progression through awareness. We question whether certain individuals should be given the opportunity to voice these opinions in a spotlight if they don’t necessarily offer the country a chance to take a “step forward.” The concern lies in the possibility of certain opinions halting social progress as well as fanning the flames of fear, ignorance, and bigotry within the country through their influence.

Tomi Lahren and Milo Yiannopoulos, who blatantly impose their politically incorrect and socially regressive philosophies upon the American people, have occupied the front lines of media exposure by expressing points of views that generally seem to oppose social and political progression. Moreover, these two individuals only seem to be concerned with issues facing a small percentage of people: white conservatives.

The issue with free speech in the media is not so much a partisan concern, but a concern that directly undermines any type of social progress within this country, whether it be racial, political, or gender/sex based.

Though Lahren does not overtly advocate for bigotry, her overt and aggressive dogmatism in relation to current political events and social movements can cause irreparable harm to our country’s welfare, through her influence in mainstream media.

This can be seen time and time again; namely, during Lahren’s distaste for the Black Lives Matter movement, a movement that campaigns against violence towards black people because of perceived stereotypes and dehumanization of the black community. Lahren claims supporters of the movement are “the new KKK” and openly refers to the movement not as a social movement targeted to resist bigotry towards blacks in this country, but as a “war on cops.”

These type of false claims towards an extremely important movement that advocates for social equality for blacks can cause harm to our country because it falsely educates impressionable Americans into learning a distorted version of the truth. A truth that can cause more harm than good through people’s reactions to Lahren’s fictitious claims.

However radical or extreme Lahren’s views may be, her main hubris lies in her inability to see past black and white. Lahren does not seem to apply logic through a spectrum but rather in terms of “right or wrong,” “yes or no,” or “up or down.” This inability to apply the logic of a situation or social issues in a complex way cannot exist within progress or within politics.

In this way, Lahren’s hypocrisy, as she continues to chastise and belittle other individuals for wanting to have their voices heard through political protests, becomes plainly flagrant. Lahren even refers to Trump protesters on her show, not as individuals exercising their first amendment right of freedom of speech, but as “…crybabies with nothing better to do than meander down the streets with participation trophies and full sense of purpose” and as “a crowd of misfit babies formed from every failed movement all sandwiched together to form the largest group of whiners the country has ever seen.” It cannot get any more hypocritical than that.

Lahren claims her issues with protesters resides in the fact that they need to move on and accept the reality of their situation, whether that be President Trump’s new position, or whatever social issue resides before them. However, Lahren’s issues lie not with liberals’ supposed inability to accept the realities of the world, but with the fact that people with views and opinions opposing her own are using Lahren’s defense against her. They are actively, and loudly exercising their first amendment right to free speech.

I am not advocating for the government to step in and control what we, or certain people say in this country, nor would I want our first amendment right to be taken away. I am advocating for progressiveness within our country rather than degenerating into the worst version of what this country could be through Lahren’s influence, or anyone like her for that matter.

We are living in the “step back” portion of this fickle two steps forward, one step back pattern of slowly growing progress. We are living in a world where it is okay to spew falsehoods even if it means detrimentally affecting and influencing others who don’t know any better. Although we are in the “step back” portion, there is still potential for us to clean up our mess, by standing up against those whose main purpose in their usage of their first amendment right is to hold this country back for their own personal pursuits, disregarding the oppressed and exploited people of this country.

We cannot allow hate to win. As a nation we must persist against the vile and ignorant claims that impress upon the more impressionable, or further fuel the ignorant with false facts and claims.

We must become the best versions of ourselves, and educate others to be the best versions of themselves in order to achieve progress, and ignore those who don’t deserve to have their voices heard, even if they are given the right to.