First Amendment of the US Constitution
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According to president George Washington, “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter. ” Free speech is one of the fundamental rights that should be expressed by every human being, but sometimes it has negative effects on other people. In “From Cross Burning to Funeral Protests, Hate Speech Enjoys Broad Protection,” supreme court correspondent Richard Wolf argues that free speech does not necessarily lead to violence, and the supreme court should continue to protect freedom of speech; however, Thane Rosenbaum in his article “Should Neo-Nazis Be Allowed Free Speech?
Argues that free speech should not have First Amendment protection because it leads to emotional harm. Although Wolf makes a good point, Rosenbaum is more persuasive for his credibility with his knowledge of the law, for citing convincing facts and statistics, and successfully employing emotional appeals. A senior fellow and the Director of the Forum of Law, Culture and Society at New York University School of Law, Rosenbaum has more valuable knowledge of the law than the Political Reporter Wolf.
Knowledge of law emphasizes the professional qualification of the author to talk about topics such as freedom of speech. Rosenbaum remarks, “the Supreme Court upheld the right of a church group opposed to gays serving in the military to picket the funeral of a dead marine with signs that read, ‘God Hates Fags’” (172). He uses this example of the Supreme Court to introduce and support that free speech should not have the privileges of “First Amendment protection” (173). His knowledge about the Supreme Court shows that he has a personal stake in and first-hand experience with the problem.
He also shows that he has a vast knowledge of law by using many strong sources that strengthen his credibility, as well as build his argument; however, Wolf uses a lot of quotations and most of them without much explanation. Doing so weakens his validity and fades his knowledge on the subject. Rosenbaum’s sources include, case studies of France and Israel, the first amendment, studies from universities, and comparing free speech in the United States with other countries. He states that “Six European countries, along with Brazil, prohibit the use of Nazi symbols” (172-173).
Citing these sources boosts Rosenbaum’s credibility by showing that he has done his homework and has provided expert opinions to support his claim that free speech should not have First Amendment protection. Although Wolf gives well supported facts in his article, Rosenbaum uses stronger appeals to common sense, with many facts and statistics and logical progressions of ideas. Rosenbaum provides several researches and studies from universities to backup his claim that free speech causes emotional harm. Rosenbaum states that “research has shown that pain relief medication can work equally well for both physical and emotional injury” (173).
This research is a few of many that logically support his claim of that free speech leads to emotional injury. Moreover, Rosenbaum notes that “the confusion is that in placing limits on speech we privilege physical over emotional harm” (173). The First Amendment has bent toward the acceptance that if there is no physical harm involved, it is not in violation of the First Amendment, but as Rosenbaum explains, the act of speech, more specifically, anyone’s definition of hate speech, can oftentimes present unmitigated emotional damage and trauma. It is, however, protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
If that does not sit well, that is perhaps because the constitution itself does not acknowledge social and emotional trauma through such use of free speech. However, Wolf’s article lacks the same level of effectiveness in using persuasive facts. For example, Wolf notes that “Faced with the racist and anti-Semitic speeches…, the violence that resulted and president Trump’s equivocal denunciation of “all sides,” Republican as well as Democratic officials have said the groups should not be welcomed anywhere. ” (1) In response for that, he said “Ah, but they are – by virtue of Supreme Court precedent.
” (1) The lack of enough explanation shifts Wolf’s intelligent voice, that he has established, to enfeeble his argument. Compare to Wolf’s reasonable emotional appeals, Rosenbaum creates a superior emotional connection to the readers. People may be uninterested in an issue unless they can find a personal connection to it. The quality of evoking emotions in an argument is one of the effective elements that captivate the interest of the readers in a subject. Rosenbaum says, “We tolerate the fake slip and fall, but we feel absolutely helpless in evaluating whether words and gestures intended to harm actually do cause harm” (174).
His goal is to shock the readers of the idea that they are not able to identify emotional harm, and that there is no way to distinguish lawful speech from unlawful. Rosenbaum way of evoking emotions gives him the privilege to have better emotional appeals. On the other hand, Wolf says, “the risk in Europe and other courts across the globe, where speech designed to threaten or stir up hatred is not protected, said Neuborne’s… He believes local governments should be able to block protests such as the one in Charlottesville”.
Wolf method of connecting to readers emotions is by trying to intimidate them which is a pathetic way of using people emotions. He wants the readers to accept hate speech and to be afraid of the idea of that taking away protection of free speech is a bad thing. Furthermore, Wolf quotes someone else’s ideas to connect to the reader’s emotions, whereas Rosenbaum emotional appeal is portrayed to the reader by using his own ideas and using first person method. Rosenbaum’s use of first person in the lines, “despite what we tell our children, names do, indeed, hurt,” (173) allows the reader to recognize his passion for the argument.
The ideas are more personal to the reader because they are that of the author, and not a third, random party. In conclusion, when comparing the two positions, both sides make an acceptable case, but Rosenbaum was very effective in employing the three rhetorical devices to strengthen his argument about free speech. Everyone should have complete liberty to describe ideas and opinions as ideas breed innovation and progress. On the other hand, it is equally wrong to spread hatred, to malign and defame fellow human beings in the name of freedom of speech. Words are capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.