We all need to toughen up when it comes to free speech

Last month, the Pew Research Group released a study showing 40% of millennials polled believe government should be able to censor speech considered offensive to minorities. In the Las Cruces Sun News paper, a commenter in the Sound-Off section asked “why conservatives manage to make ‘politically correct’ and ‘compromise’ dirty words”. It also that claimed political correctness is the embodiment of “common decency” and those who oppose it are mean-spirited, slanderous and prejudicial. A Sun News contributor and publisher of a New Mexico political site, Heath Hausamen, wrote on his site recently calling for polite online discourse and condemning speech he implied leads to violence (“Online discourse should encourage understanding, not violence”). The implication here, while much of the media and the left are simply saying it outright, points directly to the killer in Colorado who recently went on a rampage in a block of buildings, including a Planned Parenthood. While it’s not clear if Hausamen is trying make this claim or not, the claim has generally been that the fact that those who oppose groups like Planned Parenthood inspired this murderer by exercising their speech rights and talking about the heinous acts that Planned Parenthood are engaging in. He, and others like him, are calling for speech to be regulated in order to do away with offensive and hateful speech. 
It sounds enlightened on the surface, but it’s really a disturbing trend pointing away from the principles that made America great. It’s disturbing because so many young people are ok with allowing the government power over the second right mentioned for protection from that same government in our Bill of Rights. They’ve bought into a seductive narrative that truth is relative and opposition to what they believe is hate. The thing is, polite and popular speech wasn’t the reason for the First Amendment. It’s for the revolutionary, incendiary, offensive speech that makes people uncomfortable and spurs them to think and take action. Free speech is more than an individual right. It’s essential to human progress. 
The men who enumerated this right in our Constitution are the ones who’d just finished fighting a bloody war for independence that had been precipitated by speech that was offensive to a great many and absolutely lead to violence. The revolutionaries who wrote and spoke backed up their words by taking up arms. The words of men like Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams were offensive and condemned by many as encouraging resistance and violent rebellion against the government. They were, of course. Thank God that they were. Even Thomas Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence, sadly, are still considered offensive by many today. After all, Jefferson talks about rights endowed upon us by God, not by any laws; absolute rights like Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Life, especially, is a right that most pro-choice people hate being discussed as an absolute and the idea of God being cited in a government document is horrific to many progressives today. Isn’t it sad to think of our founders being targeted to have their speech limited today?
Throughout our history, revolutionary speakers and writers like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Susan B. Anthony, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. have changed our nation for the better. Their words were inflammatory and created discomfort. Imagine if those words had been silenced because they made people feel bad when that’s what made them so powerful. But that’s what many want today. 
I figure I’ll be accused once again of wanting to get rid of all laws regarding speech, but that’s just not the case. We do need laws prohibiting speech that solicits violence or creates panic, but we don’t need to be broadening those limits. For example, progressives are jumping on the bandwagon claiming that those who talk about the practices of groups like Planned Parenthood (the wholesale killing of babies, the selling of their corpses with all the dispassion of a n auto junkyard) are encouraging the sort of violence we saw recently in Colorado. This couldn’t be further from the truth but, for the left, it seems like we’re now living in a cable TV show: “Truth Is The New Hate Speech”. 
We’re citizens of a nation founded on confrontational revolutionary discourse. We don’t shy from that or cry foul because we don’t like what is said. We combat speech that we find offensive or wrong with our own speech, which us equally protected. It’s the way things change. It’s the way those who are wrong or dangerous are ferreted out and identified. Speech is one of the main weapons that our founders left us with in order to defend and promote what is good and defeat and call out what is evil. But, to use that weapon properly, we have to allow for others to wield the same weapon and we can’t cry foul or run for a ‘safe place’ when we hear things we don’t want to hear. Let’s thicken our skins a bit and embrace the benefits of a society where speech is protected and countered with more speech. 

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