Sticks and Stones

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Freedom of Speech is possibly the most respected American ideal. Envied by citizens of countries where self-expression is a right of some and stricken from others, we uphold this concept with defensive pride. However, we must ask ourselves if this freedom can ever go too far. When does lenience turn into naivety? If speech is abused so freely that it enslaves the minds of another should it become a privilege, rather than a right? In his essay “On Racist Speech”, Charles R. Lawrence III argues for limitations on Freedom of Speech as described in the First Amendment to prevent only the most heinous racial remarks. While I understand why many Americans initially find limiting freedom of speech contradictory to the concept of our free states,…show more content…
Some citizens opposed a restriction on speech simply because they feel it is not a complete upholding of American law. However, we must decide whether the restriction of free speech for protection is entirely acceptable or not at all because responses are often inherently hypocritical. While opposition will often argue that racial comments cause no harm and are a right of the First Amendment, the same people may argue for restrictions of free speech in other circumstances. It is likely that the majority of people oppose allowing pedophiles the right to express their sexual feelings to a child over the internet, which is already a legally enforced restriction on freedom of speech. Although there may be no physical contact between the child and the pedophile, it is important to parents that their children are protected from the possibility of such a threat as well as any emotional distress caused by inappropriate comments. Further examples are found in government views on sexism in the workplace. How much can we restrict the class of people we defend before our laws become just as prejudice as the injustice they attempt to cease? Lawrence reminds us that the "Supreme Court… held that sexual harassment that creates a hostile or abusive work environment violates the ban on sex discrimination in employment of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964." (64); the same Title “prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion… and national
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