I am writing in response to your piece about the Jemele Hill event. Although this event was advertised as being for First Amendment Week, much of the rhetoric present was actually anti-First Amendment. At one point, when questioned about her political beliefs, Jemele said that she was on the right side of history. She said that if you don’t believe in what she believes in you are wrong and if you’re not outraged, you’re lazy.
This kind of message is poisonous and directly contradicts the amendment that protected her right to criticize the president in the first place. Throughout history, the worst tragedies and the most horrific regimes began with the premise of “I’m right and you’re wrong.” By the same token, the current polarization of our country is partially due to both sides of the political spectrum believing they have the supreme moral authority. People on both sides refuse to take a moment to consider what it must be like to be the other.
The reason why we have the First Amendment is so that we may have difficult civil discussion to create solutions and progress. Accepting that there is one true answer to every question eliminates the need for the First Amendment in the first place. Neither you, nor I, nor Jemele Hill should ever be the decider of what’s right and wrong. Instead of saying things are right or wrong, use empirical evidence as your guiding principle. Refuse to be swayed by empty rhetoric.