Letter to the Editor: Conservatives don’t get away with violent speech

By Aida Vazquez-Soto
On July 13, 2017

SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

This Letter to the Editor is in response to the article The Oracle ran on June 28 titled "Conservatives can get away with more offensive speech than liberals."

A column published in the Oracle on June 28 asserted, “the individuals exempt from the backlash of threatening people in the name of free speech are right wing conservatives.”

Discussing the backlash celebrities like Kathy Griffin and Johnny Depp faced for their comments on President Donald Trump, the article claimed that free speech was only truly protected for those people to the right of the political spectrum. I wholeheartedly disagree.

The reality is that both sides are guilty of using violent rhetoric, but it’s a false equivalence to say that Ted Nugent and Kathy Griffin are comparable, in reach or influence.

Ted Nugent is a relatively unknown rocker, more famous for his tasteless comments than his music. Kathy Griffin was a co-host on CNN’s New Year’s Eve Celebration who held up the decapitated head of the President.

Why do people on the left cite strawmen in the movement as representative while ignoring statements from more popular figures like Ben Shapiro, a conservative commentator, who make very clear their abhorrence for speech that advocates or defends violence?

Contrast this with Madonna, who openly admitted to fantasizing about blowing up the White House or Snoop Dogg and Bow Wow, who talked about pimping out Melania Trump.

The truth is that while the right condemns violent language, even when it’s from the fringe, the left allows it to pervade its mainstream as free speech.

There exists, too, a misconception about the protection of free speech. Freedom of speech gives you the right to say whatever you want. The government can’t prevent you from expressing an opinion.

The First Amendment does not, however, protect you from the consequences of that speech. People are free to respond to you. It’s why if you trash talk your boss on Twitter, you’re liable to get fired.

Frankly, Johnny Depp is lucky. His comments about Trump won’t deter people in Hollywood from working with him. Besides, Depp is financially secure enough that he doesn’t need to take every acting job that comes his way. That probably wasn’t the case for the rodeo clown who received a lifetime ban from the circus ring after wearing a mask of former President Barack Obama in 2013.

As citizens, we have every right to speak our minds however vulgar, violent, or hateful the opinion. But what we use our words to say is a powerful litmus test of the country. While both sides will inevitably keep using violent rhetoric, does that mean that they should?

 

Aida Vazquez-Soto is a junior majoring in economics and political science.

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