What is freedom of speech?

It seems that this question is controversial and often the response is one that has several twists and turns.

Recently, Alan Dershowitz, educator, lawyer and self-proclaimed liberal experienced a bitter encounter with his colleagues. Due to his support of some of Trump’s decisions, he is being shunned from social circles.

Is this what is has come to? No longer are we able to engage in meaningful conversations with those who disagree with our opinions without it ending in an argument or some sort of nasty exchange?

Since the 2016 election, public scorn for one another has reached unprecedented levels. It is no longer a case of disagreeing, but of pure hatred. Why can’t we have conversations that are not laced with vitriol? No one must agree with the other, but we do have to respect one another’s differences. That is the beauty of America. Here we are free to think, speak and be free. However, based off current events, this is no longer the case. To disagree turns into name-calling and fiery conversations that end in friends turning to foes, which is un-American.

Whether or not one agrees, or is in favor of the president, is not the issue. It is an American right to like or dislike at will, to agree or disagree as one sees fit. But it is not American to allow hate and anger to push one over the edge. For instance, a recent example from Texas shows how a man threw his drink at a 16-year-old wearing a MAGA hat… then stole the hat.  That is unacceptable behavior.

When did it become acceptable to throw food at someone because of the hat they are wearing? Remember freedom of speech and expression? It is not appropriate to attack someone because you dislike their clothing or do not like their politics. Free speech is a two-way street; free to state and free to receive. It is not meant to be used to destroy and harm others.

I have been in local stores only to hear shop owners and sales persons criticizing President Trump and conservatives. Politely, I leave and refuse to shop there. Why? Because I live in America where we all have the right to an opinion. I do not disregard other’s views. I leave because I do not believe anyone, liberal or conservative, should be publicly chastised in such a blatantly disrespectful manner.

I do not need to agree with you, but I do respect your right to think as you so choose… so respect my views as well, please. There is no reason we cannot live peaceably and respectfully of one another. The beauty of America is that we all have the right to an opinion, freedom to worship as we choose, dress however we feel inspired to, speak openly and to live freely. The catch is that we must respect one another, regardless of what we think of the other’s views. No one should spew hatred at the other, whether they agree with our views, or not. This is what makes America free and how freedom of speech works.

Lauren E. Forcucci is an educator, writer, and proud American. She is the daughter of an immigrant, the granddaughter of a veteran, and a friend and supporter of active-duty military, veterans, and police.   She’s also a proud Whiskey Patriot.

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