Free Speech is Great, But We Should Encourage More Civil Discourse (from September 28, 2017 – for The Daily Nerv)

Recent news has made it urgent to encourage and explain to the masses why free speech is a great freedom and right to have and express. The issue is a topic of high-priority because of what we have seen play out on our television screens as of late, from “protesting” (if it can really be called that) to rallying by one group against another group of people who hold an opposing view.

From Berkeley to Boston to Charlottesville, we have seen what really can occur when people desire to protest against the rights of others whose only desire is to speak freely and voice their opinions about a variety of controversial subjects in public.

It only makes sense that those of us who believe in free speech, can see how things could take a terrible turn for the worse and continue to be vocal about its importance in our current society. We hate the very idea of our nation ending up emulating an aspect of fascism, which would be the forcible suppression of opposition. Imagine how these United States would then look if everyone with an opposing view to those in power were forcibly made to adhere to another person’s beliefs. Well, we would then cease to exist as the great constitutional republic that our country was meant to be and has become (despite her imperfections).

Recently, Katherine Timpf, a Fox News host, wrote about her desiring to defend even hate speech as free speech. She wrote: “People have directed vile things at me, but they must have the right to say them.” Ms. Timpf deserves some commending because she wrote the aforementioned piece after being assaulted and giving details about the experience through social media.

Though Ms. Timpf’s opinion (and many others’ belief) about the freedom of speech, even hate speech, should be lauded, it is vital to the discussion to reiterate the necessity of civility in any form of discourse.

We have too many people, especially the young, that desire to discard free speech (or any speech that offends them in some way) and are willing to shut down anyone who does not support their narrative in its totality immediately. Nevertheless, the problem is not just the denial of free speech alone; enough people seem not to encourage free speech practiced in an affable manner. People seem to forget that correction done chivalrously will go much further than loudly voicing an opinion aggressively just to be heard.

In addition to being courteous with whomever one is having a dispute with, giving an open-minded ear to their thoughts would be all the more beneficial to the conversation. For civil discourse to take place, it needs for its interlocutors to be thoughtful when engaging one another, as unbiased as possible when listening, and ultimately having the objective of seeking the untarnished truth of the matter. These things, whenever done right, can and should move a conversation forward between two or more rational human beings.

Yes, free speech needs to be defended, but it being expressed in a manner of civility should be modeled and defended just as much.

Originally published on The Daily Nerv – August 16, 2017

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