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Free speech should Trump censorship

Even controversial ideas should be protected

No%2C+that%27s+not+a+band-aid.
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Free speech should Trump censorship

No, that's not a band-aid.

No, that's not a band-aid.

Eva Hoffman

No, that's not a band-aid.

Eva Hoffman

Eva Hoffman

No, that's not a band-aid.

Kevin Sabeti-Oseid, Editorials Editor

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Over the course of the 2016 campaign season, presidential candidate Donald Trump has made numerous headlines with his controversial speeches and ideas. Ranging from banning Muslims from entering the country to labeling Mexicans as rapists, Trump’s outspoken statements have earned accusations of hate speech from marginalized groups from around the world.

A seemingly convenient solution would be to censor people like Trump. This idea, proposed by Minnesotans to the United Kingdom, is far from right. Censorship doesn’t educate the ignorant, and it doesn’t eradicate the tensions that arise from groups of people who agree with the hateful speech. Instead of using the blunt tool of censorship to limit freedom of speech, Trump’s ideas should be combated with logical arguments and clear rhetoric.

Trump’s attacks on marginalized groups such as Mexican immigrants, Muslims, and women (and all their intersections) are disrespectful and far from acceptable for someone running for president. Still, silencing hate speech like Trump’s would be unjust and hypocritical. Under the First Amendment to the Constitution, we are all granted the right to speak our minds. A policy where controversial ideas are censored is too susceptible to abuse. Instead, dissenting opinions should be addressed and logically debated.

A clear example of censorship gone wrong can be seen in France. When Anne-Sophie Leclère called Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, a black woman, a monkey on Facebook, she received a 9-month prison term and 50,000 euro fine. While her statement was extremely racist and inappropriate, the response punished her without educating her or her supporters about the inappropriateness of her Facebook post.

Under a system of censorship, ignorant people who participate in hate speech would care more about avoiding punishment than understanding their mistakes. Intolerant ideas would never be addressed or proven wrong, leading to a population of people with internalized hatred towards certain groups.

When ideas are censored without discussion of their flaws, their advocates become sensationalized as martyrs. This can be seen with the popularity of Trump’s mantra that he is simply tired of having to be “politically correct.” Censoring Trump would only lend credence to the false idea that the problem lies not with his racist comments, but with the intolerant, overly-sensitive society that he claims exists.

Of course, censorship may be necessary in certain circumstances. For example, speech that calls for violence can’t be tolerated. It breeds extremism that can lead to physical harm for marginalized individuals and minority groups. However, there is a difference between calls for violence against a group of people and the use of slurs or stereotypes to slander an ethnicity or religion.

As many political groups fight for oppressed groups like people of color, women, or LGBTQ+, conservative counter-trends that spout hate speech will inevitably appear. It’s important for us to realize that the best way to progress toward a more tolerant, accepting society is to challenge hate speech with logical argument, not silencing the speaker.

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Free speech should Trump censorship