Since its beginning, America has been known as the land of freedom and opportunity. It is a land where people do not have to be afraid of expressing their opinions for fear of death. Our first amendment protects our freedom of speech, and, yet, people have the nerve to say that freedom of speech does not mean you should be allowed to say whatever you want to say.
The solution is simple: if you do not like what someone has to say or are offended by what a publication is printing, then you have the choice to not listen to that person or read that publication. That does not mean that you have to restrict everyone else from doing so just because you disagree with their views or beliefs.
Take the case of Charlie Hebdo in France. Charlie Hebdo has been in the news for the past couple of months because of the terrorist attacks in France and the protests over its offensive portrayals of Muhammad. I understand that the portrayals of Muhammad have been offensive for Muslims and that some people do not understand the principle of freedom of speech. But Charlie Hebdo is a satirical magazine; it is meant to ridicule. What else can people expect from a satirical magazine?
The First Amendment of our constitution states that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.” No one has the right to stop someone’s freedom of speech. If it is a matter of an individual or a group of people getting hurt or killed, then that is different matter altogether.
Writing death threats or saying you are going to kill someone is illegal. In addition, saying the word “bomb” or “fire” in the middle of a movie theater is illegal. Someone could get hurt because of actions like this, and freedom of speech does not give people that right to hurt others.
But the government cannot restrict everything just because an individual gets offended by it. If not, we’d all be mute. For anything that is written or said, there is bound to be someone that is going to take offense to it because it seems that nowadays, people tend to get offended quite easily.
If we restrict one thing, eventually we’ll end up restricting everything. Not everyone in the world is able to be to express their opinions like Americans are. Yet people still find the need to complain because little things hurt them. Instead of trying to limit freedom of speech, we should value and treasure this right that we are so privileged to have.