Free Speech Has Consequences, and Cancel Culture Is One of Them

Posted on December 2, 2022 by

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The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” 

That means everyone is protected by the First Amendment to an extent.

On the other hand, unprotected hate speech is “public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.”

There is a broad difference between hate speech and free speech. Even with free speech, not everything a person says will be protected by the Constitution and allow a person to keep his or her job.

Private businesses are entitled to allow what they would like on their platform or in their company.

“For example, a private individual or business generally has the right to limit certain types of speech on its own property. An example is Facebook choosing to ban hate speech on its platform even though hate speech is technically protected in most circumstances by the 1st amendment,” Fleetwood science teacher Damian King said. 

What King is saying is that hate speech can be allowed, but a company also is allowed to let you go due to many reasons you might consider “minor.”

But how do the consequences of what someone says affect him or her in a higher-qualified field, like sciene?

“Scientists have specific rules that they need to follow (the scientific method and codes of ethics) to get published in scientific journals. If they don’t, their research will not be published and will be ignored by the scientific community. Scientists that are caught purposefully violating these rules can be ostracized from the community and even lose their scientific careers. The problem is that science is not a government body, and so no greater prosecution can result against perpetrators, and oftentimes these lies can be very lucrative for the fraudster,” King said.

In some cases, a person may not even be held accountable or there may not be a consequence. This is a very dangerous mindset to imbue in younger generations.

 One of the most important consequences pertains to cancel culture. While some may think of cancel culture as a way to take someone’s fame and media popularity away, cancel culture is much deeper. 

Some may not know, but cancel culture has been around for decades.

One of the earliest dated forms of cancel culture was the Hollywood Blacklist.

According to Benjamin Thomas, and Jared Frater “The Hollywood Blacklist was the cancel culture of the 1940s and 50s. During the Second World War, the US teamed up with the communist Soviet Union to fight the national socialists. But after the war ended, anti-communist views began to spread across the states. People feared that pro-Soviets were infiltrating the US media to push global socialism. It reached such a furor that Hollywood began banning workers who were rumored to have far-left political views. In 1947, the HUAC started to look into the influence of communism on the film industry. Ten workers who refused to give evidence to the committee were thrown out of their jobs and each served a short jail sentence. “

The media is bigger than ever, and consequences of “Cancel culture” have altered many people’s lives.

Recent events that have become very popular in the media include Kanye West and the controversial things he says. Students in Fleetwood Area High School are wondering what consequences the hip-hop artist will face. People may think Kanye’s First Amendment right may protect him from everything and/or anything he says, 

“The First Amendment guarantees him protection from government censorship, but private companies are free to terminate partnerships with him if they so choose, which is what has happened here,” Washington Post writer Travis M. Andrews said.

“In the past few weeks, he’s lost several partnerships within the fashion world, including with Adidas and Balenciaga. CAA, which was his talent agency, dropped him from their roster,” Andrews said.

So Kanye has lost a lot of support from some big companies. Companies are not hesitant to drop big-named celebrities from deals because of what they have said. That may not damage Kanye’s career moving forward because he’s very well-established in his success, but it can ruin someone’s career. If a person says something that may offend someone and he or she has a full-time job, that person’s company is legally allowed to fire him or her, and the First Amendment offers no protection.

Jacksonspencerlaw.com verified that “Private companies and employers can discipline or fire an employee for what they post on social media. There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule. In general, employers cannot fire you for posting truthful statements about working conditions, like harassment or unsafe working conditions, comments that indicate your interest in joining or supporting a union, messages to other co-workers suggesting that they contact a lawyer to get information about workplace rights, or demographic information like your race, sex, age, or religious affiliation.” 

So there are limitations, but also consequences. Kanye West is a prime example of what could happen to shared relations with a person after someone says something offensive in the media.

“Hate speech is never OK or excusable,” Kim Kardashian (Kanye West’s ex-wife) tweeted Monday, October 24.“I stand together with the Jewish community and call on the terrible violence and hateful rhetoric towards them to come to an immediate end.”

Everyone has “free speech,” but do they? Nowadays, everyone has to be very careful (especially students) of what they say or post on the internet.

Posted in: Owen Williams