Speak up against hate speech

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Photo by Annika Brown
A popular saying seen at protests against the use of hate speech in America. “Whenever someone says something negative about anyone, I think that it’s your job as a human to stand up for people,” junior Khuluc Yang said.

An increasing concern in our country is hate speech. Hate speech is defined as speech that attacks a certain person or group because of their beliefs, race, or sexuality. Although it would be nearly impossible to control hate speech, if people are not combating it, in some ways they are accepting it.

Everyday in America, people are being targeted by hate, whether it be online, or in person. Hate speech is a growing problem, and if people are not speaking up against it, the instigators will gain even more power.

Freedom of speech is protected under the First Amendment, but it is hard to depict what is free speech and what is hate speech. The only type of speech prohibited by the Constitution is speech that contains violence or results in harm to a person or group.

“I know that the freedom of speech is something that is very broad, but you have definitely crossed the line when people get disrespected and feelings are hurt,” senior Donyea Perry-Davis co president of the Black Student Union said.

I know that the freedom of speech is something that is very broad, but you have definitely crossed the line when people get disrespected and feelings are hurt.”

— Donyea Perry-Davis

There seems to be no limit on what people can say under the guise of free speech. If people think that the disrespecting comments they make will be protected under their right to freedom of speech, the hate that is targeting certain groups will be ignored. People need to speak up against the hate, so it does not divide our country even more than it is now.

There are many instances where minority groups in America have been a target of hate speech. The synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh is an example of how hate speech directed at Jewish people was ignored and resulted in the killing of 11 people. This sparked a debate on whether the anti-semitic comments the gunman made on social media prior to the shooting should be viewed as an expression of hate or free speech.

“Even in our history like slavery and Black Lives Matter, there is still negativity being spread around that,” junior Khuluc Yang co president of the Asian Student Union  said. “And the reason why there are stereotypes with minorities is because of hate speech,” she added. 

There are groups and individuals who are victims of hate speech almost everyday in America. As a country we should be coming together at times of loss such as the senseless killings in the synagogue, not pulling apart giving those who contribute to the hate more power.

Right now, America seems to be more divided than it has been for years. People are so careless with their words and opinions towards one another, and it is tearing our country apart. It is one thing to have a freedom of opinions and beliefs, but if you use hate to denigrate someone else’s you are creating an environment of fear.

“A lot of people say that hate speech is not that big of a deal, and they try to justify themselves by saying like, oh it’s freedom of speech but its not okay because you’re just basically just disrespecting someone else’s existence,” junior Carol Boules said. 

People are scared to speak out about their own opinions and beliefs because of the fear of being verbally or physically attacked. If the First Amendment was really followed, people would be able to speak out about their opinions, not having to worry about the backlash they might face.

Most people agree that it is important to speak up against hate speech, however there may be negative consequences. Some people believe that if we give more attention to those who espouse hate speech it might give them more recognition and followers. Standing up against the hate might provoke more problems, and result in more hate crimes. But, the more we ignore hate speech, the more it will flourish.

It is important to stand up against hate speech no matter what your opinion or belief may be. By doing so, you are protecting the rights of those who are being affected by hate. We need to stop the spread of verbal violence before the hate and disrespect becomes normalized.