Thomas F. California

Freedom of Speech Under Attack

Why the next President should fight against the suppression of Freedom Of Speech around America.

Dear Mr. or Madame President

My name is Thomas, I am a student at a high school in Northern California. I am writing this letter to tell you about my concerns of the censorship of Freedom of Speech around the country. Freedom of speech is the right to articulate one’s opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or censorship, or societal sanctions. I believe that Freedom of Speech is under attack in America. For example, if you are in public and express your political view, people will call you a xenophobic, misogynistic, racist, sexist, etc... I thought America was the “Land of the Free” which granted us, the American people, freedom of speech. This sovereign right is what helped African Americans become free from the shackles of slavery and granted women the same rights as men. Today, however it is looked upon as something that allows people to be racist, xenophobic, or deplorable. I can see how people might want the government to censor these kinds of things, but that power could be easily abused and turn this nation into a similar state as Russia. In Russia, President Putin has "tightened the muzzle" leaving most newspapers and television news outlets controlled by the state. If a journalist in Russia asks Putin a controversial question, instead of being sent to labor camps like the Soviets did they will be murdered and several people have been. In the Middle East, many of the leaders will say with a straight face "Don't listen to anyone but me." This article from The Economist helps tell this story,

A worrying number of non-state actors are enforcing censorship by assassination. Reporters in Mexico who investigate crime or corruption are often murdered, and sometimes tortured first. Jihadists slaughter those they think have insulted their faith. When authors and artists say anything that might be deemed disrespectful of Islam, they take risks. Secular bloggers in Bangladesh are hacked to death in the street; French cartoonists are gunned down in their offices. The jihadists hurt Muslims more than any others, not least by making it harder for them to have an honest discussion about how to organize their societies. The idea has spread that people and groups have a right not to be offended. This may sound innocuous. Politeness is a virtue, after all. But if I have a right not to be offended, that means someone must police what you say about me, or about the things I hold dear, such as my ethnic group, religion, or even political beliefs. Since offence is subjective, the power to police it is both vast and arbitrary.(Economist)

These acts are horrendous and are caused only by someone expressing what they think and believe. A less extreme example is the "Great Firewall of China". This firewall blocks people in China from certain websites and helps enforce the nearly sixty regulations against the internet. The system will only allow you to access state-owned websites, business companies, and organizations. This system helps government propaganda essentially work in poisoning the minds of China's youth. This ties into a bigger issue which is the Obama Administration’s surrender of the Internet which could end up in the hands of enemies of liberty, authoritarian regimes or radical leaders. Doing this the United States would surrender the control of what keeps the internet free and accessible to anyone, anyplace, anytime. Even though Americans are the people who invented, funded, and help deliver the internet to people around the world Obama somehow thinks that it is correct for him to give up the internet.

Censorship occurs all around the world even in America and Europe, like this article from "Julie Boroski" which states,"public colleges and universities are full of free speech violations. Many colleges have instituted designated “free speech zones” where students can speak and protest without getting into trouble. Of course, that means that free speech is disallowed elsewhere on campus, which is a violation of the First Amendment" (Borowski)." Like the article states it is a violation of the First Amendment but people allow. I think that if things like continue to happen America will fall behind in education and problems will arise because these two groups of people don’t get to meet and discuss who’s idea is correct and who’s is wrong or how they can work together to find a solution; instead they get to believe they are right and live their life like that blind to the other views motives. And this article from "Chronicles" says,""At Amherst College, in November, hundreds of students crammed into Robert Frost Library and demanded that students who had posted "Free Speech" and "All Lives Matter" posters go through "extensive training for racial and cultural competency" and possibly discipline. They wanted the administration to apologize for "our institutional agency of white supremacy," among many other forms of discrimination like "heterosexist, cis-sexism, xenophobia, ableism, mental health stigma and classism." On an alumni forum, Matthew Pewarski, of the class of 2008, asked, "Why is Amherst, an institution supportive of political freedoms, ultimately becoming a college full of restrictions?" (Chronicles)."I agree with Matthew Pewarski a college full of restrictions on opinion is no college at all as it contradicts the purpose of learning different views and learning how to find a solution to contrasting views. Finally this excerpt from "The Economist","Concern for the victims of discrimination is laudable. And student protest is often, in itself, an act of free speech. But university is a place where students are supposed to learn how to think. That mission is impossible if uncomfortable ideas are off-limits. And protest can easily stray into preciousness: the University of California, for example, suggests that it is a racist “micro-aggression” to say that “America is a land of opportunity”, because it could be taken to imply that those who do not succeed have only themselves to blame." (Economist). If it is a racist “micro-aggression” to have pride in America and that saying it is “The Land of Opportunity” then maybe instead of African Americans voting in democrats who own the inner cities and they are the reason they are in terrible conditions, maybe they should try someone different to see if they can help them so America can be “The Land of Opportunity” for them.

These three articles all help to conclude that the United States; a country which is free, is not indefinitely free. The students that are doing this are being taught by the teachers and tutors that voted for Obama and his free speech hating agenda and soon these kids will vote for future presidents who will continue down this path and ultimately lead to the destruction of our democracy. It also shows that what the students are doing in blocking opposite, "hurtful" ideas have allowed what the students identify as the "correct idea" to flourish and populate the minds of other students. It also helps people understand why there is a correlation between censorship by regimes and censorship by students and how they both achieve the same goal of shutting down the opposition. In this article by "Poushter" it shows what allowing this toxic state of mind has done,

"In contrast with American Millennials, those ages 18 to 34 in Germany and Spain are more likely to say people should be able to say things offensive to minorities compared with those ages 35 and older. On the other hand, in the UK, the younger generation follows the lead of American Millennials by being less open to this form of freedom of speech and more willing to allow government restrictions. There are no significant age differences in France, Italy and Poland on this question." (Poushter). I strongly disagree that the government should restrict Freedom of Speech under most circumstances, even the government believes that they shouldn’t restrict speech; as the First Amendment in the United States Constitution States, "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." Though I do not believe the government has many reasons to abolish the Freedom of Speech on a certain topic; things such as Child-Pornography is an exception and I agree with it being banned as its production requires the harm of children. However constructive criticisms of opposing political opinions should be allowed even if it is a “micro-aggression” to some because others want to hear it and figure out solutions to it. 

These are the reasons, Mr or Madame President, that I believe you should focus on upholding the bedrock liberty of Freedom Of Speech and defending it from those who want to abolish it. Freedom of speech has kept this country flourishing and kept it honest; as Amartya Sen said "No democracy with free press ever endured famine." And finally as the first President of the United States said...

"If the Freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."

-George Washington.