“What does freedom of speech mean?” At first glance, this question seems like it would have one straightforward answer, but I think we all know how complicated and complex this issue is. The 1st amendment protects people’s right to say what they want without legal repercussions. This can be beneficial for many reasons, but most importantly, it allows people the right to criticize our government without prosecution. I do think, however, that a lot of people use it as a reason to say harmful things. But then that raises the question of who decides what is harmful? I’m not sure there’s really an answer to any of these questions.
I think there’s a difference between expressing your freedom of speech and being a good person. There is also a difference between being prosecuted for what you say and having consequences for what you say. You may be able to say what you want, but that doesn’t mean that somebody else doesn’t have the same right to be upset about it. You can say something that you can’t have legal actions taken against you while at the same time a private company might reprimand you. There are so many layers to freedom of speech and the limitations placed upon it.
We live in a world that is becoming increasingly digital. The things you say and post can have lasting repercussions. A tweet can end your career. A drunk selfie on Facebook can prevent a company from hiring you. There are consequences for actions in some aspect or another. Just because you have the ability and the right to say something, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be social consequences to those words. It’s complex and hard to consider all of the factors that affect freedom of speech, and it really is hard to put it in to words.