Every citizen in the United States of America has rights, one of them being the freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship or sanction.
Because of this right, people are able to voice their opinions publicly whether they are negative or positive.
But, when does a negative opinion become a form of hate speech? Hate speech is speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. This type of speech is usually prohibited in public: schools, churches, jobs, or even at a restaurant.
“Our country is doing the more free speech then they ever had thanks to social media,” says Shayla Steerly a government and political science major at Florida State University. “Social media has become a tool for people with platforms as well as it is a tool for people with opinions. So you will get the good and you will get the bad.”
Public figures are people such as politicians, celebrities or business leaders who have a certain social position and a significant influence. These people are held to different standards when it comes to freedom of speech. Mostly because they are responsible for their influence in society.
“Their presence is important to a lot of people so they should, as leaders, be responsible for the things they say,” said Nick Thomas, a legislative aide for the state of Florida. “Public figures like Donald Trump and Barack Obama influenced this country in two different ways and that just goes to show hw influence works.”
Trump is the current president of the United States of America and even though he holds the highest position of power in the country he does not necessarily speak as if he does. He is widely known for his controversial tweets and things he says in public about people.
His twitter feed is full of negative comments and viewpoints about other public figures who may not support his views. In one tweet about LeBron James and Don Lemon he said:
“LeBron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made LeBron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!”
He has also said things about immigrants, about NFL players and about former president Barack Obama.
So should the president and other public figures have the same rights as other Americans or should what they say publicly be filtered because of their position in society?
“Public figures should use social media as a tool to promote, inspire and shed light on current events that influences their niche market,” said Catiana Salient, owner of HipBizTec and social media manager for HipBizTecService. “He should be penalized because as the leader of the nation anything offensive should be treated as such.”
One of the most valuable things about being an American is having freedom. But, it goes without saying that not everyone’s freedoms are the same based on their status in society. Donald Trump being one of them.