Think Before You Speak, America

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As a teenager living in the constantly mind-changing and seesawing (or, to put it more bluntly and perhaps more realistically, bipolar) country known as the U.S.A., I find it depressing that, for a country which preaches liberty and justice for all, we have virtually zip regulations on hate speech.
If we took away the meager couple of laws limiting obscenity, libel, and speech that leads to physical violence, we could literally say whatever we wanted. And for the most part, we do, with no regard to how it might affect the way others feel or think.

I think that, to be considered a free country, the United States has to seriously consider proposing laws that would protect the most often discriminated-against minorities, such as immigrants and homosexuals, from hate speech.
Is it freedom when you can’t walk out on the street and be yourself without fear that you’ll be assaulted by aversion and beaten bloody by ignorance? Why are the haters free to hate while the innocent aren’t free to live?

It’s unlikely these laws will be established any time soon, seeing how Americans salivate over their precious freedom. This is why it’s so important to influence the youth of our country to be naturally good people. We have to change our mindset.

I’ve always turned my back to using ‘insults’ such as ‘gay’ and ‘retarded.’ Yeah, they’ve become a part of pop culture, but does that make using them right? By some [sad] social standards, yes. Once something is a trend, that makes it seem and feel, on the surface, okay.
But if you look inside that better part of yourself - the part that objects to toxic waste being poured on kittens - maybe you’ll find that what often appears perfectly fine and dandy isn’t, in actuality, right.
It’s wrong.

Just think of it like this: stupid is a word, an adjective, but retarded is a person. Stupid isn’t going to feel bad, but retarded is. And their parents, friends, teachers - everyone who cares about them is going to feel bad.
Let’s say you’re calling your friend’s ugly pair of shoes ‘gay’ (when used in this context, ‘gay’ is probably the most widely acceptable but utterly homophobic term out there). Everybody uses that word. Nobody thinks about it. Maybe you have, once or twice, and pushed it to the back of your mind. But no matter how you refrain from thinking about it, there is complicity.

Moving on from insults to blatant, outright hatred: I think the biggest reason there’s so much tension between people with different beliefs and values is a lack of understanding. When we yell and scream, each trying to be louder than the other, we get nowhere. But when people listen to each other, we begin to realize that everybody thinks in a different way, and just because someone thinks in a different way than you doesn’t mean what they think is bad.
Most every confrontation between people with opposite ideas seems to go like this:

Person #1: God hates fags!
Person #2: No, he actually doesn-
Person #1 [foaming at the mouth]: GOD HATES YOU YOU’RE-A-GOIN’ TA HELL YOU’RE ALL A-GOIN’ TA HELL CONFORM TO MY SET OF BELIEFS OR YOU WILL GO TO HELL.
Person #2: But I-
Person #1: BABY-KILLER!
God: Well, this is upsetting.

...and never like this:

Person #1: God hates fags!
Person #2: Y’know, that sort of hurts my feelings.
Person #1: Oh my goodness, I am so, so sorry. Please accept my apology, as I was being an idiot and not thinking before allowing those terrible words to spew forth from my evil, poisoned tongue!
Person #2: It’s okay.
Person #1: Let me buy you a milkshake!

...and even less likely, this:

Person #1: God hates fags!
Person #2: What are you insinuating?
Person #1: I don’t know, I was just sorta bored so I made this sign.
Person #2: Ah, ‘kay.

Perhaps I have [an obvious] liberal bias, and perhaps this bias causes me to view the conservative idea as the wrong and the liberal as the right 99% of the time. I’ll admit it: I’m no centrist; I strongly believe that virtue, as well as mercy and truth (and Jesus?) also have a liberal bias.

I feel I’m digressing, so I’ll make this short and sweet. There is no excuse for even the milder, more socially acceptable versions of hate speech, e.g.: that hat is so gay!
And there is certainly no pardon for hatred and ignorance. It doesn’t matter if your locale is made up of a bunch of upperclass, Christian whites or an African ghetto of poverty and disease; the world is a neighborhood housing almost seven billion people of every possible background in every possible situation.
They are our neighbors, so you might as well cross the street and welcome them to the community, because they are here - and here to stay.





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

booknerd said...
Jan. 31, 2011 at 10:19 am
I agree with your idea that hate speech is really discriminating but I think it messes with America's freedom of speech. =( I just wish people weren't so. . . . well, you know. I also really liked your sample conversations between "person #1," and "person #2." I thought they were a little funny in a sad sort of sarcastic way. Nice job! Would you read my article on book banning? I would really like your opinions!
 
chatoyant replied...
Feb. 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm
Thank you ;D And I most certainly will!
 
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