Is Free Speech Still Free?

By: Matthew Lies

Is the “free speech'' in America still as free as it was 40 years ago? Everyone has a form of voice, whether that be physical or through other means. This is the basis of what America =’s stands for. What I am asking about is can people be as broad and vocal in what they say in todays’ society as they did back in the 80’s? The answer is no with what appears to be blatant hypocrisy with every opinion. Some preach tolerance, but choose to reject different opinions. Others call out this rejection, yet do not keep their minds open.

Problems with the Modern Idea of “Free Speech”

America has come a long way since the Reagan administration, but it has not always been for the good. An example has been “cancel culture”. The premise of cancel culture is that someone has done something so heinous, and they are barred from society. They are shunned, gain a bad public image, and could potentially lose their livelihoods, and they are given little chance to redeem themselves. 

While the idea of removing bad people from society may appear good on paper, the problem lies in the fact that it seems like nothing is off limits in this culture and usually, someone is cancelled over very small things. Cancel culture has attacked individuals, corporations, and society alike, with no limitations on what for. An example is Looney Tunes’ Pepe Le Pew who was cancelled most recently because he embodied “rape culture”. His mannerisms were such of being very sexually forward towards the female roles that were included in the shows. Yes, people have cancelled a cartoon that first aired in 1945.

Moving Forward…

To fix or adjust “cancel culture” can’t be some widespread thing that is fixed overnight. What individuals need to do is train themselves to see what deserves their attention. I believe Julian Edelman said it best in an open letter he wrote about anti-semetism: “When someone intends to be hateful, it's usually met with great resistance. Casual ignorance is harder to combat and has greater reach, especially when you command great influence.” In summary of what Julian Edelman wrote is that a majority of humans have no intent of being oppressive. However, we as humans are flawed creatures. We have the occasional Freudian slip or something that comes out differently than we envisioned. When this happens, we can’t become enraged and start demoralizing and threatening them or the things they hold dear to them. With that being said, it is important that they know what they did wrong and help educate them as to why what they did was wrong. People need to be open minded to other opinions, but disagreements are meant to occur. If we were all a collective hive mind then progression as a society would hinder because there would be nothing to cause us to think or challenge us. It is how we handle them that shows how tolerant we really are.

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