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In Defense of Hate Speech

My first encounter with the complexities of free speech took place in 6th grade.  I’ll never forget a comment our teacher, Mr. Courteol, made that changed the way I viewed free speech forever.   
“Free speech,” he said, “Is first and foremost for the person with which you disagree!  Nobody will ever seek to silence someone they agree with, and so it is through the infringement of free speech to those with which we disagree that free speech becomes threatened for all.”  
He went on to explain that even if we hate what someone is saying, it is important that we never infringe on their ability to have the right to say it, lest someone someday do the same to you.  
That was 29 years ago, and that concept still resonates with me.  Free speech is most importantly for the guy I don’t like.  I’m still thankful for Mr. Courteol for making that point so clearly, and today, in a world consumed with silencing hate speech and creating safe spaces, I appreciate those words even more.  I’m not sure how…

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