This was an article I never intended to write. Now every part of me is screaming at me not to hide anymore. I’m not overly political and I don’t talk about a lot of hot-button topics on Medium. Now I’ve decided to show what I stand for. I’m a free speech absolutist. This means that no matter how controversial your opinion is, I stand by your right to say it.
The U.S. has an amendment that defends free speech. It’s part of the constitution. I live in the U.K. and there’s no amendment or law that protects free speech. Instead, we have police officers who spend more time policing social media than protecting the public. We live in a world where words are violence and saying and doing anything remotely controversial can be considered hate speech.
I believe there are only two genders. I believe that abortion is a more nuanced debate than simply ‘my body, my choice’. I believe that people from all ideological walks of life deserve to have their voices heard, no matter how repugnant their views may be. I don’t care if you’re Christian, Jew or Muslim. I don’t care about your sexuality. I don’t care if you’re a communist hippie vegan or an alt-right skinhead. I don’t care about your race, either. If this is too controversial an opinion for you, you may want to stop reading this article.
Free speech is inclusivity. Free speech is being able to say what you want without being charged for a crime. The ever-increasing divide between political groups is dangerous and there is less middle ground than there has been in recent memory. That precious middle ground is what holds the extreme left-right politics at bay. The middle ground is what allows people to talk about their views in a calm and reasonable way. Free speech is being able to say; ‘I don’t like what you have to say, and I think you’re wrong, but I defend your right to say it,’ rather than ‘Shut up you bigot, it’s not okay to be white!’
I’ve seen and experienced a lot in my life so far. Now I’m in the twilight of my twenties, I care less about fitting in. I have, and I always will be an outcast. There are a lot of millennials who don’t believe what I believe, and that’s okay. I’m sure there are plenty of people from other generations who don’t hold the same beliefs as I do. I suppose I feel so strongly about free speech is that I know what it’s like to be censored. My father was abusive, and he used subtle methods of emotional manipulation to control me and my family. Piece by piece, all my emotion and agency was ripped from me. I became an automaton. He did this whilst rarely lifting a finger. Even when I realised what he was doing was wrong, it took at least a year for me to come forward to the authorities. That’s the power of emotional abuse, and I will never let someone else guilt me into retracting my words. Nothing anyone can say can hurt me.