Chat with the chief: Finding the line

The First Amendment is a very powerful tool. It is the sole reason that I am allowed to do this job day in and day out.

And yet, unlike the tools you see in a toolbox, this tool can be used in a variety of ways, for better or worse. Now before people raise their arms, there are many examples of freedom of speech being used in negative ways. In fact, there are countless examples of negative freedom of speech that had positive intentions.

Take this past Thursday for example. The group that staged the event, Created Equal, wanted to inform students on campus of what abortion truly entailed. That’s totally fine for them to spread their views. The way they did it is totally acceptable too… at least according to the First Amendment.

A few weeks ago I wrote one of these columns discussing common courtesy and what that entailed. Let’s just say that this group definitely did not read that piece. I mean, I expect that I’ll be able to walk to classes without people force-feeding me vomit-inducing images. What makes it worse is that this was their desired outcome for their demonstration.

Looking back, there are a lot of times in the past where freedom of speech has crossed the line. Now, I’m not saying that Created Equal crossed that line, however it does raise an interesting question. Where is the line?

Some people believe they should be allowed to say whatever they want. I definitely don’t think that should be the case as the saying “some things are better left unsaid” often ends ringing true.

We all know that you can’t scream “FIRE” in a crowded building when there is no legitimate fire occurring. But is that the line? Is anything up to that point acceptable?

Again, I don’t think so. People should be allowed to say negative things and have demonstrations that make people uncomfortable. Uncomfortable conversations, especially on topics like abortion are important conversations to have.

However, I do not believe that we should be able to force people into having to see or hear what they have to show or tell us. That is where I’d draw the line, but of course, it is probably different than the line drawn by someone else.

For all of you who have read this far, it has been your choice. I didn’t take the newspaper and throw it in your face telling you all to read this.

And that’s how it should be if you ask me.