Freedom of Speech Being Attacked?

Abigail Ramsey, Writer

   Freedom of speech is one of the most defining laws in the United States, but is it good? The First Amendment makes the U.S. stand out from the rest of the world as one of the first to actively support the right in expressing untethered public speaking. When the law was first passed, it was supported by every U.S. citizen, but with the right to say what anyone wants, if a business decides to silence their customers simply because of their views, do they have that right?

    Recently this question has become more prominent with several major corporations such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter banning their users for apparently nothing more than their opposing political views. Several of those users have large followings and money, and have decided to sue Google’s business, YouTube. PragerU had filed a lawsuit against YouTube in October 2017 for restricting and demonetizing  many of their videos.

    Google’s response, according to The Hollywood Reporter, “Youtube is an open platform and, to make it a great place for users, creators and advertisers, we provide different choices and settings. Restricted Mode is an optional feature used by a small subset of users to filter out videos that may include sensitive or mature content. Giving viewers the choice to opt in to a more restricted experience is not censorship.”

    Yet PragerU claims in an article on their website, “YouTube had chosen repeatedly to restrict over 30 PragerU videos for violating their ‘Community Guidelines.’ Those guidelines are meant to protect users against vieing sexual, violent or graphic content. If you’ve seen any PragerU videos, you know that they contain nothing even remotely close to any of these categories.”

    Does YouTube have the right to restrict PragerU videos? Even though they are a private company, they are large and act as a news outlet for many. Should they be treated the same as any other business?

    PragerU is a customer to Youtube, but they can always take their money and time somewhere else. Youtube has the right to turn down their customers, no matter how unethical or pointless it may be. Since this occurrance, Youtube has been cutting down many of the conservative channels on their website without much of an apparent reason behind it.

    Facebook and Twitter have also been banning many of their conservative users, which has left their fans outraged. Freedom of speech seems to be under attack  not just on social media, but in schools as well. Colleges have enforced speech codes on their students in the name of political correctness and their own students’ feelings.

    Over 400 of the largest and most respected American universities and colleges have speech codes, according to an article by The Fire. In that same article, The Fire reports, “32.3 percent of 461 colleges and universities analyzed maintain policies that seriously infringe upon the free speech rights of students.”

    Many professors and students alike have been recorded protesting white privilege, racist remarks by professors, speakers coming to the campus, and more. They seek to further restrain the free speech on their campuses, but despite their efforts, seven percent of colleges have let up on their strict speech codes. Last year it was reported by The Fire that 39.6 percent of colleges had severe speech codes, dropping that number down to the present number of 32.3 percent.

    Colleges continue to loosen the speech codes while the social media makes it harder for opposing voices to be heard. Whether or not free speech is under attack is up to debate by many people, but one thing is not. People will always stand for their speech, whether they’re in the right or not.