Freedom of Speech and Religion
In the United States, the First Amendment prohibits the government from “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion or “abridging the freedom of speech.” Although the First Amendment specifies the government, Americans have historically enjoyed freedom of speech and religion in many private institutions, especially universities. Today, however, people face strong opposition for sharing their opinions. For example, USC Professor Greg Patton was a professor who was criticized for teaching his students a chinese a filler word that sounded similar to a racial slur and was criticized all over social media and was prohibited from teaching that class ever again.
When we experience speech that sounds offensive, we can either shut it down or respond with more speech. I believe that we should exercise our free speech rather than shutting it down, so people can share their ideas and information and learn from each other. For example, an organization of black students in China (Black China Caucus) defended Patton by explaining that the “nèi ge’’ word was actually an everyday word used in Chinese, and that someone should not be criticized for saying an everyday word.
Similarly, some people believe that talking about religious views is offensive, but I believe that people should be allowed to express their views, so that other people can learn more about different religions. For example, my father practices his first amendment rights by working with the Christian community to make bilingual (Korean/English) Youtube videos about how the Earth came to be and our duty to take care of the Earth (“Ice Age Through the Book of Job”). This way, non-Christians can better understand the Christian view. I hope Christians will also learn the perspectives of Muslims, Jews, and other non-Christians.
I personally watched a video (“Islam, Judaism, and Christianity — A Conversation”) where practitioners of all three religions shared their views. I learned that all three practitioners shared the idea that a higher being (“God”) created this universe, and prophets share his word. I think it was very beneficial and I learned that there are many similarities that people choose to ignore and focus on only the differences.
Our country was created on the principle that everyone can say what they want and follow whatever religion they believe in, without punishments. So during this time of quarantine, we should be able to follow our religion and practice our beliefs. We should also be able to speak our feelings, as well as share our opinions with others. We should all help and learn from each other. After all, we are all Americans and democratic citizens. In other countries, people would get punished or even killed. We should feel fortunate to have that freedom and we should exercise it as much as we can without limiting others.
“Ice Age Through the Book of Job,” October 8, 2020
“Islam, Judaism, and Christianity — A Conversation,” Janaury 29, 2018 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INIG636SnU4