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Freedom of Speech: What It Is and What It’s Not

Freedom of speech was one of the first rights added to the US Constitution.

As a matter of fact, there were some who wouldn’t even sign the Constitution without a Bill of Rights.

I am so grateful for the freedom of speech.

As Americans, we are very fortunate to live in a country where we are a melting pot of different cultures, diverse backgrounds, and various religions.

If we want to practice religion, we can do it freely.

Whatever school we want to attend, we can attend.

We get to work at any job we choose.

Although it’s expensive, we have healthcare to provide for our health and the health of our family.

We have so many incredible freedoms in this country.

But the freedom I treasure the most is the freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment.

This precious freedom is not only the freedom to speak but also the freedom not to speak.

It includes the right to protest.

Sometimes, it even includes the right to use certain offensive words.

But what it does not include is the right to incite lawless action. Nor does it include the right to distribute obscene material or to incite hate.

With the world as it is today, it seems that so many people are saying things with conviction that they really don’t know anything about.

And a lot of times, this involves spewing hate to people they don’t even know or try to understand.

War changes people.

There have been so many wars throughout the years.

Whenever war breaks out, people often take sides. I’m not sure why, but it happens every time.

And sadly, rather than seeing people as people, some start to see people as enemies instead.

Since the war in Israel started on October 7, the entire world has changed.

Antisemitism is on the rise everywhere. Islamophobia is also everywhere and growing.

Unfortunately, there is no good that comes during a war.

Lives are lost, people are wounded, and hearts are broken.

Hate changes people.

What’s happening on college campuses today is such a difficult thing to witness.

The amount of hate that is being thrown around because of a difference in religion or a difference in thought process is incredibly sad.

It’s no longer about having a conversation to understand one another’s differences.

Instead, it’s about people hating people simply because of who they are without even actually knowing them.

We’ve stopped appreciating people for the diversity they bring, and we’re tearing them down if their beliefs are different than ours.

That’s not the foundation our nation was built on.

Sadly, misinformation fuels the fire of hate.

The hardest thing for me to watch is the misinformation that people get from social media.

They then use that information to fuel their behavior and their own beliefs.

Rather than reading history books or having an actual conversation that will help us to understand and appreciate our differences, we get all of our information from the opinions of others.

The truth is, if we took the time to actually talk with people and learn their stories, we would discover that we have many more similarities than we do differences.

But sadly, the new status of our world is often using misinformation as the only information we base our decisions on.

Hate is not what freedom of speech is for.

While I am incredibly grateful for the freedom of speech, I do believe that some take it too far.

When our words are cruel and divisive, and all we’re doing is spreading hate, we may have gone too far.

Ripping down flags and painting swastikas on people’s homes and businesses is hate—it’s not freedom of speech.

It is a difficult time right now. And I imagine it is going to be difficult for a while.

But I truly hope that we do not add to the hate that is already happening.

Instead of making a blanket statement, I hope we start having actual conversations with people whose opinions are different from ours.

This is how we learn from each other.

And this is how we make the world a better place for everyone.

We have freedom of speech for a reason.

Freedom of speech is valuable because it gives us the right and privilege to share our thoughts and opinions.

This past week, I had the amazing opportunity to participate in a March for Israel in Washington, D.C.

Over 300,000 people showed up in support of our government in support of Israel and to demand the release of the 240 hostages that are still in Gaza.

It was peaceful, and it was powerful!

There were no flags being torn and no swastikas being drawn (other than a few outliers with strong opinions).

Overall, there were 300,000 people in a small area, yet it wasn’t chaotic or contentious.

Everyone was just there to show support for the Jewish people.

That’s what freedom of speech is all about.

I hope that we can all seek opportunities to use our freedom of speech to bring people together rather than tear people down.

Our world, in general, could use a little more coming together and a lot less tearing apart.

As we wisely use our freedom to speak, there is so much good we can do for this world—and for the people in it.

Our words are powerful.

And the more we use our words to strengthen and lift those around us, the better this world will be.

Meet Simone Knego

Simone Knego is an international speaker, award-winning author and two-time TEDx Speaker. Her work has been featured on ABC, NBC, and CBS and in Entrepreneur Magazine and Yahoo News. Her literary contributions have been honored by the National Indie Excellence Award and the NYC Big Book Award. Simone has not only summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, but she is also the heart of a bustling household with six children, three dogs, and one husband of 31 years. As the creator of the REAL Method, Simone continues to inspire and impact teams, fostering growth, and promoting self-discovery. 

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