Is Speech Really Free? Or is There a Price?

The freedom of speech is included in the First Amendment in the United States Constitution.

The freedom of speech is included in the First Amendment in the United States Constitution.

The First Amendment is probably the single most well-known Amendment throughout the United States. It states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Translation: everyone has the right to practice whatever religion they want, speak and publish whatever they desire and be able to protest freely. These are very broad freedoms that are given to the people and the situations in which they are used can get very controversial, very fast.

Roseanne Barr

Just recently, actress Roseanne Barr took to social media to express her opinion. In a tweet, Barr said, “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” VJ are the initials of Valerie Jarrett, who is most popularly known as serving as Barack Obama’s senior advisor throughout his presidential term. Jarrett is of European and African-American descent. After the tweet went public, Barr received a load of backlash. The comparison of Jarrett to apes is derogatory and tasteless, which holds centuries of history behind it. Throughout American history, black people have been referred to as monkeys and apes by their white counterparts. The likening of a black person to a monkey or ape is racist, plain and simple. As a result of Barr’s tweet, her show Roseanne was cancelled by ABC, just as it was set to start running again after a long break in the series. ABC’s entertainment president, Channing Dungey, said in a statement that “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.” Barr, who is a public Trump supporter, was backed by many other Trump supporters and republicans who were adamant that she did nothing wrong and she should not have been fired- she was just exercising her freedom of speech.

Valerie Jarrett

Now, the same people who were defending Roseanne Barr are the same ones who are going after comedienne, Samantha Bee, for making a statement about Ivanka Trump. On her own show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Bee spoke about Donald Trump’s new immigration policies and how much she disagreed with them. She then proceeded to say, “Do Something About Your Dad’s Immigration Practices, You Feckless C*nt,” regarding Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump. This one statement lit the blazing inferno that is Trump supporters and conservatives. The very people who were aghast that Roseanne Barr’s job was taken from her began rallying together to plot the demise of Samantha Bee. They just couldn’t understand how Bee could make such a statement and still keep her show without being blackballed. The same people who just a week ago were crying freedom of speech for Barr are now trying to take it away from Bee. How is this right? “I think they [Barr and Bee] should both be fired because they were both wrong and disrespectful,” junior Amre Keyes explains.

Ivanka Trump
Samantha Bee

In America, everyone has their constitutional freedoms, the freedom of speech just being one of them. But, when do we know what we are saying is just the exercising of our rights to express personal opinions as opposed to offensive statements? Where is the line drawn between the freedom of speech and hateful speech? As a whole, the people of America need to work together to figure it out.