Civic Issues #1: My Proposed Topic
Freedom of speech. It is said to be guaranteed to all Americans, written in the First Amendment of our nation’s Bill of Rights. At first glance, one may believe that since it is an amendment in the U.S. Constitution, everyone should be free to say what they want, expressing their beliefs without consequences. However, as with many things, the reality regarding our beloved right is not as black-and-white as it initially appears. Surely, unlike many countries, an American will not be arrested for publicly denouncing their president, but incidents still exist in which a citizen will be punished for an action deemed as heinous by some, but an expression of free speech by others.
The idea for this as my “Civic Issues” topic actually came from a fairly recent event. For those who are internet-savvy, you probably know of the scandal revolving around YouTube star Logan Paul’s extremely controversial video, in which he joked around in Japan’s infamous “suicide forest”. The kicker: he even showed a dead, hanging body in his vlog, still laughing as he saw it! As a result, Logan was forced to remove the video, and took a break from posting. He was also fired from a YouTube-exclusive series. While I personally agree that Logan Paul crossed the line in what he did, and as such, consequences were to be expected, another part of me could not help but ponder the boundary between what should be considered free speech and what “going too far, and warranting of punishment” should mean.
In a recent English RCL lecture, my classmates and I were discussing ideas on what topic to do our Civic Issues blogs on, and one student brought up the modern-day debate regarding free speech on university campuses. This intrigued me, as I have heard several stories of college professors being pressured to issue “trigger warnings” on lectures of controversial subject matter, the implementation of “safe spaces” for women, LGBT youth, and minorities, as well as students protesting right-wing guest speakers. This is when I ultimately decided on my blog topic: the supposed “boundaries” of free speech.
This is not a pre-listed topic on my professor’s course website, but rather my own choice. However, if I had to place it in one of his four sub-categories of civic issues, I would not put it in “Education”, but instead “Identities and Rights”, as the free speech debate extends far beyond college campuses, into many other aspects of civic life. In the workforce, for example, similar to how Logan Paul got in trouble for his activities on YouTube, firms have fired employees for inappropriate use of social media. The question: should the employer be allowed to fire someone for something they likely posted outside of the workplace, even though the U.S. Bill of Rights says that employee is entitled to that right?
I am very much looking forward to exploring this question in detail on this blog, alongside other similar issues, including (but not limited to) arrests at protests, unwarranted government wiretapping, and “zero tolerance” policies enforced in public schools. I also hope to provider readers with my own personal insights on said topics. See you all soon!