Back in my hometown in the Czech Republic I was the only Asian kid when I was growing up

Back in my hometown in the Czech Republic I was the only Asian kid when I was growing up. So, I was always the center of attention wherever I went. As the results of being the only Asian in the entire town, I have been microagressed countless times. People would ask where I was born, how come my Czech is so good or if I can tell them some Chinese or Japanese. However, when I was told by an older lady that I don’t deserve to live there, and should go back where I came from, I came to understand the big difference between microaggression and hate speech. The difference is that microaggression, most of the time, are not meant to hurt an individual’s or group’s feeling, whereas hate speech messages are meant to hurt and dehumanize minority individuals. The hate comment from the older lady truly hurt me, and made me feel like I do not belong there, and definitely affected my confidence and self-esteem. So, do I wish that hate speech such as hers that dehumanized me to be banned? Definitely no.
Banning offensive hate speech might be beneficial, but many problems arise when hate speech becomes illegal. The problem is that “hate speech” is in a way a subcategory of free speech, just like carrots are subcategory of vegetables. So, once the government bans hate speech, it can easily infringe to free speech. And do we really want to put the power in the hands of government to what they consider hateful? It is important to realize that banning someone else’s freedom of speech is banning freedom of opinion and expression, which is the basic human right. It does not matter whether they are the most outrageous Nazi opinions or the most peaceful and loving opinions. Unlike in Europe where censorship tries to ban anything the government might seem as hateful and even slightly hurtful, in the United States because of the strong constitutional protections of freedom speech such thing as censorship could have never happened.
The problem with hate speech is defining its term. According to the article “Silenced Voices: Hate Speech Codes on Campus” by Garett, “Hate speech is an imprecise term that generally includes verbal or written words and symbolic acts that convey a grossly negative assessment of particular persons or groups based on their race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or disability” (1). People interpret comments in different ways. Person “X” might interpret it as a “microaggression” or “hate speech”, while person “Y” would interpret it as a joke or something else. Hate speech is subjective to individual. So, this leads to questions like “what is hate speech, who decides how to define it and where to draw the boundaries, and based upon what criteria? (Garett 2). Obviously, something like “kill all gay people”, or for instance saying that a Jewish person does not deserve to live. However, would you say if someone simply says that being gay is a sin? There are even people who consider accidental misgendering a person to be form of hate speech. Overall, when someone or groups of people call out to hurt other communities, it is easy to see what is hate speech and what is not, but in subtler cases, it is too nebulous.
Banning hate speech does not mean destroying it. Limiting offensive hate speech will never change a mean person from being what they truly are. People’s individuality stems from how they express themselves. If any kinds of words are censored, how can people voice what they truly believe? When a speaker is discussing a topic for example it may be hate speech. Although many may think types of hate speech are wrong it is still an individual’s right to think this way. In reality, limiting these words cannot change a person’s morals for good or ill. Respect needs to go both ways because when a speaker is respected people can express dissent. Freedom of speech is such a privilege people have in modern society, and more and more people have chosen to abuse it rather than value what it means. You can not a limit person and their choice to say whatever they like and you cannot get rid of a constitutional right even though they say the most outrageous things. To take away person’s thoughts and opinions is to diminish their values and strip their life away. Freedom of speech is truly important because it creates a society where almost everyone can have a different opinion on one subject, whether it is hateful or supportive. Everybody should have the right to express themselves and share their opinions no matter how many other people disagree. As human beings, people are entitled to voice their voice. And the First Amendment is here for a reason- to protect citizens’ beliefs even if the popular majority believes that an opinion is morally flawed.
Racists, sexists, homophobes or others would be far more aggressive if they do not have at least a chance to voice their opinion. People should be allowed to say what they desire as long as it does not physically or mentally harm someone. If people were not allowed to speak their minds, nothing would get done and people would go crazy, if their opinions were not put out there. Without free speech people would have to put up with things that they don’t feel are okay. Without the ability to speak your mind people will never get out what they believe. It could all build up and then people will unleash their anger. When people tell you to keep stuff in that is not healthy with anything, especially your opinions. Sometimes people do not know how to express their opinions but they should still have the option of doing so.
People cannot simply protect the right of speech while restricting it for others. Those who promote banning hate speech are also willing to restrict the free speech rights of others, believing that in doing so, they are protecting those targeted by hate speech, including their right to express themselves freely. Both groups are opposites of the same coin; they both believe that restricting the free speech rights of others will protect their own. They are both wrong. If one group restricts the free speech rights of others, they give up those rights for themselves. Each gives the other the power to silence them. Putting limits upon human right like speech is bound to create a very anxious and cautious society.
Yet some readers may challenge my view by insisting that banning hate speech is a the most efficient way to create a peaceful and loving environment where everyone is safe, I still insist that hate speech has some benefits in a democratic society. Hate speech is not just a white supremacist saying racist slurs, or a homophobic person saying that all gays should die, back in the past every advocate of law, every anti-war protestor, socialist and communist, fascist and other on the right end of the political spectrum, every advocate for civil rights, women’s rights, birth control was punished because it was back then considered as “hate speech”. Therefore, banning hate speech would just result in government censoring whatever the government might seem as offensive hate speech. Yet some vulgar people will use the right of free speech to throw the most immoral and outrageous insults around, but that is the price of freedom. We also have the same freedom to voice our opinion about how they are wrong. Suppressing other voices that we do not agree with will not solve the problem of racist, sexist or other harmful speech. However, letting people have their voices heard, even the most harmful ones, is the way to acknowledge and address the problems of our society.
In conclusion, the problem of banning hate speech is that freedom of speech encompasses hate speech. The definition itself is really nebulous, and needs to be clearly defined. And in order to define what “hate speech” is, one must create a list of specific words or phrases that must be forbidden from being spoken. One cannot do anything else without any reasonable effect. Why? Because, every individual interprets messages differently. The best way to counter hate speech is more speech, is to engage others in ideas that oppose these racist and bigoted ideas. Repudiate hate speech, not by restricting the free speech rights of those who promote it, but by rejecting it, by exposing it as the destructive, hurtful, unjust force that it is, and by practicing love.