Free Speech Means Tolerance

The University of California Berkeley has long been known to be a liberal hotspot along with much of the San Francisco area. Sadly, recent events reveal that liberals can be as intolerant of opposing ideas as conservatives.

First, right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos was supposed to speak at the campus in an event not officially sanctioned by the university, but allowed. Unfortunately, protesters caused $100,000 worth of damage to the campus and forced Milo to cancel his talk.

Now whether you agree with Milo or not, he has the right to speak his mind and others have a right to listen to him. Everybody has a right to protest but nobody has a right to cause physical damage to property or other people. Free speech is essentially about listening to others because if we refuse to listen to others, we can never talk and compromise and find ways to work together.

This same pattern of intolerance repeated itself when right-wing commentator Ann Coulter planned to speak at the University of California Berkeley, and the university canceled her appearance under the excuse of safety issues.

How sad is it when free speech can not be protected no matter whether it’s from the right or left? Free speech is not dangerous. Violence based on the ideas of the right or left is dangerous.

Everyone has the right to free speech. Even hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan can say whatever they want. The danger of blocking free speech from others is that it simply galvanizes them into hardening their stances against the opposition.

Imagine if the University of California Berkeley allowed Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter to speak while protesters peacefully demonstrated outside? Now people could hear what these people had to say and challenge them with questions.

Most likely any questions would fail to change anyone’s mind but the act of allowing a conversation to occur is the cornerstone of democracy. No matter who you are, you will never agree 100% with anyone. However, you have no right to stop someone else from expressing their views peacefully, and by allowing others to speak, you can question their ideas and engage in a civil conversation.

Communication is essential and you never want to deny anyone the right to speak, even if their ideas are totally contrary to what you believe. The first step to tolerance is accepting that others hold opinions that you may not. The second step to tolerance is being strong enough to let others speak their mind while challenging or protesting their ideas if you choose.

Hate speech is protected simply because you never want a single authority to define what type of speech should be banned. The moment you allow one authority to define what’s right and what’s wrong, you’re headed down the path to authoritarian control, and that’s never a good step for any country to take.

Vote for Laws That Only Hurt Others

It’s impossible to use logic and reason when discussing politics or religion unless both sides are willing to use logic and reason. As soon as one side resorts to dogma, then all conversation shuts down.

One huge reason why the world is constantly screwed up is because of the way people vote. Generally most people vote like this:

  • If the law hurts me, then it’s bad.
  • If the law hurts others, who cares?

The problem with voting and making decisions this way is that it’s selfish and ultimately self-defeating. If you support laws that hurt others, those same hurtful, unfair laws could eventually turn around and hurt you too.

That’s why organizations like the ACLU protest for the rights of Ku Klux Klan members to march in public. It’s not that the ACLU supports the KKK’s message or beliefs, but that the ACLU supports the right for anyone to freely express their opinion without being restricted by law.

If KKK members are free to march in public, those rights also extend to everyone else as well. Thus laws that can help enemies can also help you. Of course, the opposite holds true as well. if you support laws that only hurt others, those same laws can be used to hurt you.

How many Jews voted for Hitler? It’s highly unlikely that absolutely zero Jews voted for Hitler and far more likely that at least some Jews voted for Hitler because they liked his message about the economy and ignored his message of anti-Semitism. This is little different than what recently occurred in Indiana when Helen Beristain voted for Donald Trump even though she is married to an undocumented immigrant.

Helen’s logic was that Trump’s immigration stance would only hurt other people, not her. Then the government turned around and deported her husband.

The lesson is clear. If you support the rights of others, even your enemies, then you’re protecting your own rights. Likewise if you support laws that hurt others, those same laws can be used to hurt you.

A huge majority of people vote for candidates who they think will pass laws that only hurt others. Trump supporters want stricter laws that hurt Mexicans, Muslims, and gays, completely ignoring the fact that those stricter laws can hurt them too. The general way of thinking is that it’s okay to pass draconian laws that make others suffer just as long as they don’t bother me.

That type of thinking is selfish and shameful, yet far too common. For anyone to think so selfishly is simply an indication of who they really are, and it’s definitely not highlighting them as a decent person.

Anyone who wants laws that hurt others because they think those laws won’t hurt them is ultimately evil. If that’s the way you think too, then you’re part of the problem too.

To get people to pass laws that are fair is an impossible task because most people are selfish and foolish. This is the reason why more people prefer talking to their dogs and cats than to most members of the human race.

To read more about the woman who supported Donald Trump and then had her husband deported, click here.