As a journalist, I understand and have an appreciation for the power freedom of speech lends us. Being able to speak freely and offer no-holds-barred coverage of the events transpiring around the world is one of the most powerful tools a free society possesses.
With this reverence for the necessity of free speech, I cannot condone the actions of those who would abuse this power. We, especially journalists whose words directly impact the minds and attitudes of millions, have a responsibility to use the power we derive from freedom of speech to make positive changes in the world.
It saddens my heart to see the medium of journalism being hijacked by those who intend to hurt, those who flaunt freedom of speech in order to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
Something as sacred as freedom of speech should not be used as a platform for bigots to spread their hateful vitriol.
The world needs good journalism, and should not have to suffer at the hands of those with no respect for their craft. Our mission is to bring to light injustice, to disseminate critical information about what’s happening in the world, to use our words to better our communities, not darken them. When we forget this mission, when we twist the principles of freedom of speech to justify baseless, childish, racist attacks on others under the guise of satire, we have failed. We have failed the public, we have failed as journalists, and we have failed ourselves.
Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to say whatever we want without any thought given to what our words truly mean and the reactions people will have to them.
Freedom of speech does not mean levying valueless, insulting attacks on others with no intention other than to hurt. We have to have more respect for our fellow human beings than that.
So no, I don’t believe freedom of speech means a blank check to say whatever we want whenever we want, regardless of the consequences.
To me, freedom of speech means honoring the legacy of those who gave everything in pursuit of the noble goal by being above petty insult, above disingenuous “satire”, above puerility.
Let’s have some more respect for those who use freedom of speech for its intended purpose, to challenge, to enlighten and better our communities, and less respect