Free Speech, Not Hate Speech

Thomas Kegler, Class of 2021

Let me start with this: I love cigars. Like, love love cigars. Some of my best memories are hanging out with my friends talking about girls and smoking cigars. By the fire, in a cigar shop my friend works at, sitting on the porches of our houses, we’ve smoked everywhere. I played football, soccer, and trained in martial arts. I am an Eagle Scout. I listen to Johnny Cash, and watch Clint Eastwood movies. Also, I’m queer.

My anger isn’t aimed at the cruel words of Mr. Leary, who insulted my sexuality. I’m used to it. I’ve been called a fag in the streets, been bullied in schools, and been attacked by my family for my sexuality. His words are light in comparison to the things I have faced.

My anger is aimed at the Carroll News itself. How can a paper, which wishes to have any thread of credibility, knowingly publish such a hateful and inaccurate article? What is the motive? What constructive or useful opinion is being conveyed? That Hitler would have won the war if Churchill didn’t smoke? That anyone who drinks Starbucks or wears skinny jeans can’t be a man? The publication of Mr. Leary’s is nothing less than disgusting and shameful. Any person who had a role in letting it be printed should be utterly disgusted with the message they decided to show the world.

There is a place for discussion of ideas, for arguments, for people to speak their mind, and yes, that place is the free press. However, letting hateful, factually inaccurate slop be printed for the world to see is not “the market place of ideas,” it is hate speech plain and simple. There is no room for hate in our school, nation, and world. Because as we all know, when we let hate roam free, atrocity happens. Mr. Leary may have no knowledge of the Second World War, but the rest of us know this: when no one spoke up to hate, a genocide occurred.

I expect better from the Carroll News. I cannot force it to make any decision or any reform, but I can say this: if articles like Mr. Leary’s become commonplace you will lose not only my trust, but also the trust of this entire student body. As I’ve said, there is a place for contentious articles that challenge social norms, but there is never a place for something as false as Mr. Leary’s essay. We must demand better.