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Free speech vs. Hate speech

Freedom of speech – is the right to articulate one’s opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or censorship, or societal sanction.

Hate speech – is speech which attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, or gender.

I post these two definitions as examples to refer back to.

Free speech is guaranteed by and contained in the Bill of Rights. We don’t get to choose what we like or get offended by before someone speaks. There is a line though. Threats, obscenities or words likely to produce a negative reaction as defined by section 415 of the Penal Code are not allowed (well at least without possible consequences).

I think most all people get this.

I understand that current politics permeates this issue. I don’t ignore that at all. Political choice is one of the great freedoms we enjoy in this country.

The issue of free speech vs. hate speech, supersedes politics.

Every time…..

It is impossible for some people / groups to differentiate from the concept of individual thought and groupthink. Notice I don’t mention any specific groups or people. The reason? Because it doesn’t matter what side or the political spectrum you sit on, religion, orientation, race or the size of your paycheck, we are all susceptible to the phenomenon of groupthink.

But I don’t blame all of society’s wrongs on groupthink. There are folks out there that definitely have some strong feelings and voice them. Sometimes these folks cross the line into hate speech vs free speech.

Here is the thing and my simple prayer.

In the USA we have the guaranteed right of free speech.

Use it to:

  • Speak out against tyranny
  • Speak out against the ills of the world
  • Express yourself, your loves, your concerns
  • Criticize government or related issue
  • Sing your favorite song

Please do not use it to:

  • Threaten people / groups
  • Spread hate to any group or individuals

My advice –

Be a good person,
live by the golden rule,
listen more than speak,
be patient and tolerant,
be an example to others,
Loving is less work than hating,
If you see something, say something,
Always look both ways before crossing the street,
Please no man buns.

That’s all I have for now,


This post was originally published on August 20, 2017 on Chief Westrick’s blog.

David Westrick
Chief of Police
Hollister Police Department, California