Opinion: Why the First Amendment Matters

This week, on Millersville University’s campus, a man stood in front of the dining hall angrily yelling a holding a big sign that said gay people are going to Hell, and women belong in the kitchen. He chose to stand in front of the dining hall at noon because he knew he would gather a crowd - he was right. Quickly, a crowd of angry students formed, listening to his hatred. As the day progressed, many people complained that the university should have stopped him. Although the university hated having someone spewing hate at its students, there was nothing they could do to stop him - his words were protected by the first amendment. 

There is a very fine line when it comes to what is considered free speech and what is not. Often, hate speech is considered free speech; in this case, it was. This man’s protests were protected by the First Amendment because they were not considered “true threats.” Although his words were filled with hate, he never actually threatened to hurt anyone, so his words were protected by the First Amendment. As much as I wish people couldn’t spread hatred like this, I understand why the First Amendment must protect it, and I thought I would explain it to you.

If the freedom of speech were changed through an amendment to the Constitution or a new interpretation of the First Amendment by the Supreme Court of the United States, a lot would change. You may think it would be a good thing to stop that protester from stating his opinions, but you may eventually lose the right to share your opinions too. Today, we are lucky enough to share our opinions against the government. Plenty of people protest Donald Trump’s actions, but if we start altering the freedom of speech, it could eventually become illegal to speak out against the government. In order to protect your own right to free speech, you must protect all free speech. To fight against hateful people like the protester, we must all do our best to spread kindness, because really, that is the most important thing we can do.

HCXO, Riley