Freedom of speech is one of the most important rights we have as citizens of the United States, but can that freedom be abused? Absolutely.

According to the student policies on the ETSU website, a student’s freedom of speech can only be disrupted if it is causing some form of dangerous disturbance or otherwise breaking the laws of the school, state or nation. But what about people who are not students on campus?

Their rights seem to be essentially the same, but should they be? Should any of us really be able to say anything we want to? The short answer: yes.

The ability to say what you want to in a public setting is important. Of course, some people may not want to listen to what you have to say, but they have the right to walk away. This does sadly allow for some nasty things to be said or even preached.

Hate speech is an awful consequence of freedom of speech, but we fortunately live in a time in the United States where the people who say terrible things like that are socially crucified. Just as lunatics have the right to preach about whatever they desire, we have the right to drown them out with support and comfort for those affected by their ramblings. If they did not have the right to say it in the first place, who knows what rights we would have to respond to other things we don’t agree with.

Another issue involving freedom of speech here at ETSU are the people using it. Students are one thing, but what about the much older people coming to preach to the students here? Obviously this doesn’t include the leaders of Christian ministries established on campus; rather it’s just random people showing up and trying to preach to us.

It comes back to the original point, they should be allowed to be here and say what they want. To a point. As long as they’re only talking and not taking any action to do anything to a student here, they have the right to be here. It is entirely up to us whether we want to listen or not.

Freedom of speech is a great right that we all have as a result of being citizens of this nation. Sure it allows insane people to say insane things, but without it, we may not be able to respond to anything. It is vital that we retain the freedom to say whatever we want to without being afraid of government silencing us.