Disagreeing with what someone has to say but defending his or her right to say it is the foundational defense of free speech. English writer Evelyn Beatrice Hall sums it up well when she says:
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”]
This view is especially relevant at the moment when businessman and policy leader Donald Trump is on a national stage making bigoted ethnic slights.
J.K. Rowling, writer of the Harry Potter books, has deemed Trump worse than Lord Voldemort, but she still defends his right to say offensive things:
I find almost everything that Mr. Trump says objectionable. I consider him offensive and bigoted. But he has my full support to come to my country and be offensive and bigoted there. His freedom to speak protects my freedom to call him a bigot. His freedom guarantees mine.”]
Unfortunately, according to the Pew Research Center, 40 percent of millennials are fine with government censorship of offensive speech about minorities. Some things that people say are often unacceptable. And yet, suppression of speech is more dangerous than the words that any particular person can use.
In the video below, Chapman University Professor Tom W. Bell explains why offensive speech can actually strengthen society.
When people resort to force to prevent or restrict expressions that they disagree with, they undermine the very principles of freedom and tolerance that they claim to defend.”]