Upholding Free Speech Begins At Home

Here is Vanessa Rasanen writing at The Federalist:

My generation supports speech policing. In a liberal household, I was taught the opposite.

I don’t talk to my parents much about politics anymore. Like many families across this country we avoid that subject, as it causes more rifts among us than we prefer to acknowledge. Life is simply more pleasant when we ignore the ideological differences that separate us.

It wasn’t always this way, of course. At one time I proudly touted my parents’ values and views. I attended pro-abortion rallies and wore anti-Bush buttons. I stood my liberal ground as best I could (given how little I actually liked politics), and would passionately battle anyone who seemed even remotely conservative. I couldn’t stand hearing opposing views, though, partly because they infuriated me, but mostly because I felt incapable of eloquently defending my side of the debate.

Yet my parents, as liberal as they were—and still are—stood firmly for the First Amendment. They weren’t shy about their disdain for Republicans and conservatives, and they were incredibly vocal for the causes they defended. At the same time, they raised us kids with the belief and understanding that we all—liberal, conservative, man, woman, black, white, or whatever—had the right to our beliefs, values, and voices.

The ACLU was widely praised in our home, as you can imagine. I regularly heard of the need to protect the speech of groups whose message was detestable, such as when ACLU defended the KKK’s right to hold a march in Maryland.

My parents sought to raise us without bubbles. We were well aware that there were people we disagreed with, and while we could certainly think they were complete morons or imbeciles, and while we might have the right to walk out, protest, or voice our own opposition, we had no right to silence them or prevent their views from being voiced.

My parents went beyond this, too, insisting that we needed to seek out knowledge even on topics we found contemptible. When I complained about being expected to know anything about the Bible when I was not a Christian, I was instructed that knowledge should be sought even on topics we disliked so as to help us become well-rounded individuals.

Read more: The Federalist