Censorship by another name

It will always amaze me to hear of someone who is willing to give up their rights in order to make sure that I don’t have those rights. Because the idea that I am free to do something they don’t want me to do is so repulsive, so vial to them, that they would rather give up their own right than have me exercise mine fully.

This is what I find to be happening with our freedom of speech. The freedom of speech is the most important freedom we have. It gives us a way to voice ourselves against injustice, and to praise fairness.

One might say that it is the keystone to every other right we have in this country. The right to vote is an extension of our freedom of speech. One might even argue that the right to bear arms is also an extension of this freedom.

Whatever your personal stance on any and all of the issues that we face, the one thing we should be able to agree on is that any abridgment of our freedom of speech is detrimental to all of us. Nevertheless, there are those who actively seek to abridge this core freedom.

What it comes down to is regulating thoughts. Someone who wishes to curtail the freedom of speech is simply looking for a way to regulate the thoughts of the American public. By defining what can and can’t be said the debate is skewed to favor one side over another, and there is no debate.

The government will always want to regulate the freedom of speech, and often times government officials will say that this freedom does not allow for someone to yell fire in a crowded room. While I’m not saying that one should do that, the regulation of any speech should stop just short of endangerment. And even then there is a problem, because any and all situations are completely arbitrary. Yelling fire at a party might be considered a funny joke at say a party attended by firefighters.

What it comes down to is this: any mollification of our freedom to speak our mind turns us down a dangerous road towards censorship. Someone will inevitably be offended by what we have to say, and will call for censorship of our speech. The answer to these calls for censorship isn’t to put limits on what we say; it is to expand these freedoms to their maximum point.

The freedom of speech must be expanded whenever possible, because all freedom stems from the right to think one’s own thoughts. Those who would curtail a person’s right to think are very dangerous individuals.

I consider those who would act to curtail my freedom of speech to be cowards. They cower to debate in an open forum of ideas. They are the types that wish to tell you what you should do, while not following their own advice. They are hypocrites who will send troops to fight a war, but lie to protect their true motives.

They are quite simply inhuman, and not interested in seeing humanity reach a higher plane of existence. A plane where the debates go on, but are not fought over with guns or bombs, but with ideas, and words only. They’re afraid that their ideas, and their words, will not withstand the openness of freedom.

Eric Gomez is a junior English major.