So, should social media ban hate speech? If so, who should enforce the ban? How do we, as a country, decide who will be the arbiter of what is called “hate speech?” In fact, what is “hate speech?” That has been a huge topic among young people this week. Let’s examine a few questions regarding the regulation of speech on social media platforms. Here we go:
What is “hate speech? Is it insults? Is it anything that may offend? Is it just being mean? Is it harassment?
Who will decide these questions? Private companies? The government? Should individuals police themselves and determine what they will and will not tolerate by supporting or exiting a platform that is insensitive?
Do we need to feel protected by the government? What makes us feel that need if it indeed does exist?
In this country, a public platform to speak freely is a part of our heritage. We didn’t need a permit to talk “across the fence.” Town criers made public pronouncements to the city, and the public discourse began immediately- right there, in public. Soon, newspapers had an early morning edition that was a staple in American households. “Newspaper and coffee” was a way of life. The editorial page presented the editor’s opinion and the public response. Later, the internet, news talk, and social media became open platforms for Americans.
In short. We talk, and we talk a lot. Americans are an opinionated people.
Frankly, I don’t trust the US Government to say what is hateful and what is not. What happens when different political parties are in control? Wouldn’t the standard move, thus being no real standard at all? And didn’t our Founders place our right to free speech right up there in the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights? They did that for a reason. They didn’t want the government regulating their free speech-or ours. Our government’s powers were limited and enumerated in the US Constitution. If we don’t keep the government’s power limited, the natural progression is that, in time, government power could be used against the people. This principle surely applies here.
I say, let speech flow freely on social media platforms with private companies having parameters and individual pages setting their rules.
The market will decide what is good or bad for America. We tend to move on rather quickly. If We the People view social media in general or specific sites as a detriment, we’ll withdraw, start another platform, or invent an entirely new one.
Finally, I think that matters of the heart like love, hate, and forgiveness should not be under government control. How to love and forgive, how not to hate are the teaching responsibility of parents and the church.
Exercising our responsibility to behave appropriately in any public platform ensures that we remain a truly free people. That’s Common Sense Civics and Citizenship.