Intolerance, Injustice and Inequality: A Great America?

May 27, 2011
By , Hartland, WI
They are the things that keep this country thriving. They are what charges every citizen’s mind, body, and spirit. And they are the things that shatter the lives of individuals. They are opinions.
An individual cannot stress enough how important opinions are. Be it one’s stance on abortion, or which president did the best job, or even who’s the best basketball team, they are what makes life worth living. And the best part: everyone can have their own opinion, because we have freedom of speech.
But things can get sticky when it comes to opinions. Where there’s an opinion, there is always going to be somebody who is opposed to said opinion. Sometimes, it’s as diminutive as disagreements on the favorite basketball team. Sometimes, it’s as callous as opinions on the military, and whether or not we should have taken the actions that we did when we entered Iraq. Sometimes…things can get nasty.
Freedom of speech is a fickle thing. It was created in a time when everyone had the same mindset. We’ve evolved. We’ve changed. We have grown. Different races, religions, and miscellaneous beliefs have come out of the woodwork. Now, with this melting pot we call America, freedom of speech isn’t as black and white as it used to be.
Racism. Homophobia. Religious intolerance. General hate speech plagues this great nation. And it is all protected by freedom of speech.
It’s been pointed out that other countries cannot speak out against their government. It’s been pointed out that racial intolerance often leads to riots; and that religious intolerance can often lead to death. The beauty of our country is that this…rarely happens here…because of our freedom. And yet, Americans still must live in fear in the US; they still must fear other people’s words.
I, an out homosexual, a liberal in a predominately conservative high school, and an atheist in a town overflowing with variations of Christianity, do not feel safe to speak freely because of my beliefs. I live in a town where racist and homophobic remarks are commonplace and considered funny. They wear on me like rust. With every new day, I am afraid to speak my opinion, and I am afraid of what I will encounter.
There are people in America, as well as any other country, who freely and openly talk of hate. Some take pride in their intolerance. In this country, they are protected. Protected. They get to speak of hate, because of freedom. How can something so sickening come out of something so tranquil?
I scorn this country for the fear people like me must live through. And, at the same time, I am enamored with this country because I can openly state my hate. We all have the capability to articulate what we feel without the true fear that we will die because of it. For the most part, we can speak our minds, and it will be accepted. That is what is great about America.





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