- August 6, 2018
Can there be too much freedom in America?
Recently, the Statue of Liberty Climber, Therese Okoumou, appeared outside Manhattan federal court and shouted “America, you mother—kers! You drug addicts! You KKK! You fascist USA” to the people who came to show their support.
She also wore a dress that said, “I really care, why won’t u?” that was intended to mock First Lady Melania Trump’s “I really don’t care, do u?” jacket.
Okoumou is a naturalized citizen of the United States and apparently feels comfortable sharing her radical far-left views publicly. The question that seems to evade everyone is exactly when does a person go too far when expressing their “freedom of speech”? Additionally, if American’s can’t show respect for their own country then how can they expect others in foreign lands to show respect?
Strict rules in foreign lands
A woman named Dong Yaoqiong streamed live video of herself splashing ink on the poster of Chinese president Xi Jinping in protest of “authoritarian tyranny.”
In the video, she gave her real name and stated that her act was to oppose Xi Jinping’s tyranny and dictatorship, and the oppressive brain control she felt was perpetrated on her by the “Chinese Communist Party.”
This act led to her being detained by the authorities shortly afterward. Yaoqiong recorded two members of authority outside her door and prior to opening the door stated on social media that they were “coming for her.” She was never heard of again. Without a doubt, this is another extreme version of “freedom” when it comes to speaking out against the government…only this expression led to an equally extreme response from the authorities.
Finding the perfect center
There have been instances of extreme rebellion on both sides of the fence when it comes to expressing one’s feelings about their government and the people who share opposing views.
Violence, death, and radical self-expression has been the earmark of those who feel strongly and want to share their opinions. American radicals have hidden safely behind the first amendment and, as a result, have continued to split the true essence of the original goal of freedom set by the founding fathers.
In one aspect, the first amendment allows the sharing of individual ideas and opinions that can assist in our understanding of one another. On the other hand, radical expression does a lot of harm when small acts are seen by the world and are then placed upon all Americans like a scar that both can’t and won’t heal.
Jeremy Waldron is a professor of law and political theory at New York University and Oxford and the author of “The Harm in Hate Speech.” Waldron was concerned with the harm done by hate speech and discussed how the offense of the speech contributes to the damage of a people as a whole.
“Hate speech involves undermining a public good, which is the implicit assurance extended to every citizen,” Waldron wrote. “While his beliefs and allegiance may be criticized and rejected by some of his fellow citizens, he will nevertheless be viewed as someone who has an equal right to membership in the society.” Unfortunately, when we see individuals spewing their disdain for the ideas shared by others, we see that liberty is truly at risk.
In an era where people are attacked for wearing clothing that has statements in which others disagree, it has become evident that we are in need of going back to the basics.
Back to the original intent of our founding fathers who wanted everyone to be heard, respected, and understood on an equal level. To somehow find a way to discover the commonality between us all and to use that as a means by which to pull ourselves toward the center of understanding. This is not the only way to someday use freedom of speech in a way that may benefit us all, but it is indeed a start.