Freedom of speech or hate speech?

Sylvie Cao, Managing Editor

My eyes widened one night as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed when I saw a post that openly encouraged Islamophobia and discrimination of Muslims. What had shocked me the most was that it was posted by a Liberty student.

“There should be a ban on Muslims and they should all be deported because they’re all terrorists. ”

This shocking claim started a heated argument in the comments, where there were those who called the post out for being hateful, whereas others defended the post, saying that it was the right of the poster to express an opinion.

Posts like this makes us question where the line is drawn between our right to free speech and our responsibility as people to not hurt others.

Comments are made about people of a particular group with the deliberate intent to inflict pain on them is hate speech: words intended to oppress people based on race, sexuality, gender, or any other group with which they identify.

As Americans, we are given the right to free speech, but it is up to us to know when to draw the line, especially when it comes to social media. With the continual development of the Internet and the rise of social networking, there are now more forums than ever for people to express their thoughts – but also their animosity.

It is important to remember that while online, we are talking to real people behind the screen. While hate speech still occurs in the physical world, it is typically reserved for those who are extremists in their groups. Online, the perpetrators of hate crime becomes more numerous, expanding to anyone who feels strongly about a topic.

It is important that we are mindful of what we are saying, not only in person, but also on our social media accounts. When we get caught up in arguments online over controversial topics, it’s easy to lose our empathy and compassion. We need to ask ourselves if the way we express our opinions is hate speech, and if it is, we need to consider if taking advantage of our right to free speech is worth hurting others.

Hate is hate, regardless of whether it is in real life or online.