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Freedom of Speech Currently Under Construction

Today, President Donald Trump once again reminded us that, as Americans, we enjoy the First Amendment protection of Freedom of Speech. His reminder came into response of Facebook banning right-wing conservative commentators from using their platform. This reminder also came at a time where the scope of what is protected speech and what is deemed as hate speech is debated and limited by members of both major political parties.

Don't believe both parties are guilty of limiting the scope of what is protected speech and what is not? Democrats advocated for safe places on college campuses. Republicans proposed a constitutional amendment allowing for Congress to prohibit the destruction of an American Flag. Democrats want voices like Ben Shapiro, Alex Jones, and Milo Yiannopoulos banned from social media platforms. Republicans demanded that Samantha Bee be fired after she referred to Trump's daughter as a "feckless cunt." Need another example? Democrats constantly refuse conservative speakers on college campuses. Kathy Griffin hardly has a career after posing with what appeared to be Trump's severed head. Democrats limit the scope of protected speech by categorizing it as 'hate speech' while Republicans limit the scope of acceptable speech by labeling it as 'unpatriotic.' Both methods limit speech in their own way and both are dangerous in a society built on the premise of freedom.

While both parties may market themselves as the pioneers of free speech, both parties have their qualms in regards to what is protected speech. That is fine; everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, one's uneasy feelings towards another person's views and beliefs does not grant the government the authority to ban it. In fact, the First Amendment of the Constitution prohibits Congress from doing exactly that.

It appears that in the President's recent tweets that he's on board with the population of American's who appreciate their right to speak freely. However, Trump has not always acted in a way that correlates with his patriotic defense of free speech. For example, Donald Trump sent the secret service to rapper Eminem's studio to question him about lyrics that they feared may have been an active threat to the Commander in Chief.

Hip-hop culture has never been friendly to Donald Trump. Even Mac Miller's 2011 track "Donald Trump," where the rapper idealizes the current President's wealth and success, became the center of controversy when Trump demanded that "Little Mac Miller" pay royalties for unlawfully using his name. Although Trump later appeared civil with Mac Miller after threatening a lawsuit, Mac Miller denounced Trump and essentially reduced him down to a racist on 'The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore."

Aside from Eminem's numerous releases where he refers to Trump as "Adolf Hitler" and declares that "without him, we can be proud of where we're from," a number of hip-hop artists have taken aim at him including The Game, Kendrick Lamar, and Joyner Lucas. Lucas, who has targeted Trump lyrically in the past, released a track on May 2nd. 2019 titled "Devil's Work" where he suggests that rather than taking fellow rappers Biggie Smalls, Pun, and XXXTENTACION, God should take "Trump...because that's a bigger threat." The music video for Lucas's newest release depicts a photo of Trump at his viewing as Lucas pleads with God to stop taking away the people that he loves and in return he exchanges them with unpopular faces such as Suge Knight, George Zimmerman, and, of course, Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is prone to criticism. He can bounce criticism off of him as if he has it down to a science. At times, he may not always have the most diplomatic response, but he has built a tolerance to an abundance of criticism. From hip-hop artists all the way to late-night television hosts, Trump has been called nearly every name in the book. The criticism that he receives is often times justified, but, like all criticism, may be unjustifiable. Justified or not, it is in my opinion that all of the criticism that any President of the United States receives is protected by the First Amendment.

Freedom of speech is currently in the works. Politicians are being targeted and unpopular views and beliefs are being expressed through a variety of entertainment platforms. What qualifies as protected speech is presently being debated in the media, in entertainment, and in Washington on a daily basis. Although our right to speak freely is arguably an unalienable right, what is acceptable to say in modern-day society is unclear. In order for our speech to protect us, we must first protect our speech.

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