Gabrielle L. New Mexico

Freedom of Speech is not Free

People like to do what they want. It's a fact. We like to be selfish and say whatever we want without thinking about how our words can affect other people. We don't think about how our words can affect us at some other place on the road we call life. We should care because our words do affect us and, whether or not we want them to or think they should, words always hurt someone and we will always have to live with the consequences. If you are someone who misinterprets freedom as the privilege without hindrance or repercussion, remember this: FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.

Dear Future President,

My name is Gabrielle Lee and I live in Kirtland, New Mexico. Where I live is very diverse and most of us have learned to get along with each other. I am someone who doesn't enjoy conflict. Of course, I understand that conflict is necessary; we need conflict to have peace, we need to know anger to know happiness. However, I will never support people who refuse to take responsibility for their actions. This includes people who falsely deny involvement and people who openly celebrate their actions and justify them and refuse to make reparations. The way people interpret Freedom of Speech causes many of these problems.

I am not native American, but I am part of another widely known minority that happens to be somewhat common in this area of the U.S. I am part of the two percent of Americans, according to, known as Mormons. We believe that we have freedom to choose, that there is always a choice. However, we also believe in consequences. I think that it's absolutely ridiculous when people say things, then invoke their first amendment right to justify themselves. For example, if I use my freedom of speech to insult a teacher, nothing is going to keep me from getting expelled from my school.

One thing I often hear when people defend themselves with freedom of speech is that other people have the choice to get mad or take things seriously and that they shouldn't be held accountable because someone chose to be offended by something they said or did. The same people who made that argument want to take action against other people who have done a similar thing and used the same excuse. There is a pattern in everything and when I look at this, I see a chain of hypocrites.

We should all be more careful about what we say, whether we mean it or not. My ten-year old brother loves to say "just joking." He thinks that it's okay for him to joke around, but he gets angry when other people joke with him. He got banned from saying those words in our house because he started joking about serious things and no one knew when to believe him.

We can't excuse ourselves from treating others badly and we can't expect to avoid the consequences because they always come. In Buddhism and Hinduism, this is known as karma. Although Mormons don't agree with them on everything and vice versa, we do agree on this: we will be affected by our actions, whether in this life or the life to come. Words are actions; they become important depending on the way we use them. The world can't truly exist as a single, great entity if we are not at peace with each other and we cannot be at peace with each other if we do not control ourselves. If we do not unite, we will never survive.

Words are important. Can you imagine if the founding fathers accidentally inserted one word into the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution? That could have taken away our freedom of speech, religion, press. We can't throw our words around because one wrong word could destroy us. In For the Strength of the Youth, it says "How you communicate should reflect who you are as a son or daughter of God. Clean and intelligent language is evidence of a bright and wholesome mind." Even if you do not believe in God, the second sentence should catch your attention.

Our words are a direct reflection of us, so we should use our words the way that we want ourselves to be represented. When you become president, I want you to use your words wisely because your words don't just reflect on you; they reflect on everyone who lives in this country. Remember this message: freedom of speech is not free. Represent us the way we aspire to be. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely, Gabrielle Lee