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Offensive Speech (Hate Speech and Bullying)

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“On October 17, 2006, Megan Meir, a thirteen-year-old girl in Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, who had been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and depression, committed suicide because of postings on MySpace, an Internet social networking site, saying she was a bad person, whom everyone hated and the world would be better off without” (John O. Hayward). Throughout the years offensive speech, like hate speech and bullying–online or in person–has become such a controversy whether or not they should be restricted and prohibited. We Americans were given “an amendment to the United States Constitution guaranteeing the rights of free expression and action that are fundamental to democratic government. These rights include freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech” (dictionary.com).

While these types of offensive acts go on, many violent actions have taken place such as riots, fights, etc. which spark up even more problems in our world today. Many say these types of hate speech and bullying should be prohibited because it causes hurt and pain to others and or one’s self, and we have others who believe limiting hate speech and bullying is going against their freedom of expression. Although some people believe the speech of cyber bullying and hate speech should not be prohibited because the act is taking away their freedom of speech rights, cyber bullying and hate speech, in fact, should be prohibited when the protection and the lives of people are at risk.

Many people argue that limiting any sort of speech is interfering from a right they have, known as the First Amendment. Restricting hate speech and bullying quiets ones voice, making it contravene the right to freedom of speech if only that one voice is being heard. People do not want to have any restrictions from any type of speech without them refraining from feeling as if part of them is being taken away. When thinking about hate speeches and cyber-bullying being prohibited, people often think about how it should not be restricted because of the rights granted and not granted that we have by the U.S. Constitution.

The ones opposing believe they are allowed to speak in a free manner expressing themselves through their opinions and not implying any form of wrong or more so any danger. Having this freedom of speech in our lives allows one to have an unlimited amount of expression and opinions without interference. Sandy Starr was able to show us a perfect example of how free we are capable of being, “the fact that anyone, anywhere, who has a computer and a connection, can express themselves freely on it.” Those opponents in favor for hate speech and bullying believe what they say and or do are not a sign of being offensive because they have the right to offend others without being punished for their actions.

Allowing hate speech and bullying to continue without any restriction is simply causing many problems with not only our internet sites but society overall. When a risky situation such as offensiveness to one or a group of persons is limited or stopped, it prevents problems from rising. “Humanity is repeating its historical mistakes, seemingly unable to learn from the past”,(Eissens) shows us how Americans have always looked forward to one day having world peace, and forgetting about the past we once had, but by not putting a line to hate speech and bullying we will continue to wait for that day to have that peaceful human race. Prohibiting hate speech and bullying, we can save not only people’s lives, but prevent crimes from happening. When one does not believe any type of hate speech or bullying is offensive to them, that person has to remember that everyone’s feelings are different depending on the situation the person is in. These types of ruthless acts are usually towards people who are a lot more passive, which often brings ones insecurity level down and makes the other person feel dominant. The act of hate speech and bullying is not only cruel, but it also puts one down insecurely which then makes these people feel helpless, useless, and vulnerable to do things they would not on a good state of mind.

Prohibiting hate speech and cyber-bullying to create a type of protective environment not only helps us, but others as well. When problems arise in a situation more than likely it does not end very well, and often someone gets hurt whether physically or mentally. Being able to prevent a crime from happening can prevent anyone from being punished and hurt. The society we live in is extremely judgmental as it is, and just the fact that our society does not understand how equal all of us really are is the reason for so many lives that have been taken away from us on earth. If people and just society period could see that every human is unique in their own way, and yet still equal, problems like cyber-bullying and hate speech would not be causing so much damage to one another like they do now. Hate speech and cyber-bullying should be prohibited because not only is it a pitiless act, but it ruins the precious gift God has given us; life. Overall, if restricting cyber-bullying and hate speech can save tons of lives, bring our world some peace, and provide protection, then there is nothing better to do than prohibit it.

“In the end the best protection against hate speech, which can be implemented everywhere no matter what, is education, teaching how information on the Internet can be assessed for its validity and how to recognize the rhetoric of hate” (Eissens). Ronald Eissens was able to show us that education is the best type of protection that can be taught everywhere to inform people. If we do not take a stand and not do anything to stop these acts from going on, it will just continue to intensify violence to become bigger. Being informed about something is always a positive note because you can be aware of something you did not know so much about, or at all and act on the situation. Therefore, sharing information and important knowledge with one another helps on being aware, which can help in this controversy of prohibiting and restricting hate speech and cyber-bullying for each and every one of our safety in this world.

Works Cited
Eissens, Ronald. “Hate Speech on the Internet Should Be Regulated.” Hate on the Net: Virtual Nursery for In Real Life Crime. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH), 2004. Rpt. in Civil Liberties. Ed. Roman Espejo. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 9 Apr. 2014.

“First Amendment” Dictionary.com. 3 Apr. 2014. . Web.

Hayward, John O. “Anti-Cyberbullying Laws Are a Threat to Free Speech.”
Netiquette and Online Ethics. Ed. Noah Berlatsky. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2013. Opposing Viewpoints. Rpt. from “Anti-Cyber Bullying Statutes Threat to Student Free Speech.” Selected Works of John O. Hayward. Vol. 3. 2010. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 9 Apr. 2014.

Starr, Sandy. “Hate Speech on the Internet Should Not Be Regulated.” The Media Freedom Internet Cookbook. Vienna, Austria: Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), 2004. Rpt. in Civil Liberties. Ed. Roman Espejo. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.

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