Date Posted

On July 4th we celebrate our country’s independence from the tyranny inflicted on the colonists by Great Britain. Patriots fought bravely to establish our country unlike any other in the world. Freedom, democracy, equality, individual rights, liberty and equal justice for all. Our foundation and our values, for which many Americans fought and died to protect, are being tested. Our laws have evolved over the past 244 years and rights were granted to those in our society that were initially left out. We must persevere and respect the rights of all Americans. It is what we stand for and what we should be most proud of.

We also enjoy our right to free speech. In today's world, social media is testing the limits of free speech, especially when it crosses the line and demeans others because of their religion, sexual orientation, national origin, the color of their skin, or any other reason. It’s like the knucklehead in the shanty who opens his mouth not to any one person but just loud enough so everyone hears the hate. The common defense is, "I didn’t say that to her or to him, and besides, it’s free speech". But the fact remains that those vile remarks represent an attack on all of us. Racist and sexist remarks represent hate speech. No member should be subjected to it and it should not be tolerated by any of us.

Bullies usually pick on the weakest. If we are truly a brotherhood and a sisterhood, then we need to protect each other, our sisters and our brothers. We have to stand up for one another and we need to call it out for what it is: hate speech. It may be considered "free speech" and unfortunately vile statements can be considered protected. However, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt those who it is directed at, even when it’s not said to anyone directly. But we all know there isn’t a person in that shanty who doesn’t know who they’re talking to. Free speech or not, hate speech divides us and weakens us. In the end, it hurts all of us, not just the jerks who can’t keep their mouths shut.