It is impossible to do a good job of reducing violence without an appreciation of Freedom of Speech. First of all, most violence in our society, including school, is verbal violence. People get angry over words they say to each other, enemies are made, and ongoing states of war are created. This is true in practically all relationship problems, whether between husband and wife, parent and child, teacher and student, brother and sister, and child and peer. A small percentage of violence is physical, but even the great majority of physical violence begins with anger over words. It is extremely rare for someone, out of the blue, to physically attack someone else without angry words being exchanged first. You will realize that virtually all fights begin with words. If kids knew how to deal with words without getting angry, there would be a lot less physical violence.
So what does this have to do with Freedom of Speech, one of the rights guaranteed by the US Constitution? Everything!
Throughout all of human history, people couldn’t just say whatever they felt like. Countless people have been tortured, crucified, burned at the stake, and killed in all kinds of horrible fashions for saying things against the “official” view. Many a bloody battle has been fought over things people said. Even today, most people in the world live in countries where it is dangerous to say what they really think.
When there is no Freedom of Speech, it is legitimate to be angry with people, to punish them, and even to destroy them for the things they say. But there is a problem with such a system. Everyone thinks his own view is the truth, but different people see things differently. Who, then is to be the ultimate authority over what can be said? The answer is that the people with the most power decide. In other words, whoever instills more terror in others gets to decide. This, of course, does not make people happy. It makes them hate the people in... [continues]
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