This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger
A primary advantage of living in a liberal democracy is the ability to say what is on your mind without fear of government interference or sanction or suppression by private groups. The Constitution constrains the government’s reaction and requires the public safety departments of government to protect all from private aggression. This freedom and protection are enjoyed even by those who say things that are offensive or ignorant. The Anne Coulters of the world can say Latinos aren’t real Americans, women shouldn’t have the right to vote, or complain about “the browning of America” as she did at CPAC 2014. The Bill Maher’s of the Far-Left can take shots at Southern Anglo-Saxon Christians and Caucasian people in general. Again, neither side need fear censorship, sanction, or violence.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution creates large difference betweens the domains of public discourse in America and Europe. Europeans believe that they need government to protect them from things that they may find to be offensive, even if that means arresting or censoring people for saying hateful things in public. America is obviously a completely different society and culture. We are simply more individualistic and believe that freedom trumps all as long as we aren’t harassing or libeling people or committing or inciting violence.
Keep in mind that the freedom to offend also comes with the possibility that you, yourself, may be offended without legal recourse other than publicly justifying and defending yourself. You will not be entitled to any official legal sanction against the person who offended you.
The First Amendment protection of offensive language must be equally defended for all, regardless of political affiliation, especially in a country that is as politically as divided as we are. Partisan media have equal rights and responsibilities when it comes to offending either side. Neither side is entitled to special treatment under the law.