Pizza and Politics: Freedom of Speech and Social Media

This week during Pizza and Politics at the Leavitt Center students discussed the relationship and differences between freedom of speech and social media.

Miles Anderson, a master of public administration student, and Madison Neugart, a freshman psychology major with a minor in political science, led this week’s discussion.

The discussion was started off with the question asked by Miles Anderson, “What makes freedom of speech on social media different from traditional speech?”

As students began thinking of the question, a few hands began raising to give their opinion.

Sunny Sims, a senior double majoring in criminal justice and political science with a minor in legal studies said, “Freedom of speech is different on social media platforms, because you do not truly know the intentions of someone’s post or opinion until they explain. This is because it is not face to face.

The audience overall agreed that people get different interpretations of different things when they are not explained well enough.

This led to Daniel Boothe, a sophomore majoring in criminal justice, supporting that statement by using the example of the comedian Kathy Griffin’s fake beheading picture of Donald Trump.

Boothe stated “Many people in America thought that Kathy Griffin wanted someone to essentially assassinate Donald Trump. She initially said ‘as a comedian I didn’t see it as anything but a joke and am I not using my freedom of speech.’ However, because of this picture, Griffin lost money, received death threats, landed on the Interpol criminal list and was scared to leave her home. She ended up apologizing to America, begging for our forgiveness.”

Boothe’s comment was right on time as the next question lined right up with the conversation already ongoing.

Before the next question was asked, the leaders Anderson and Neugart explained what exactly the technical definition of “freedom of speech” is. Miles Anderson then asked “How ‘free’ is freedom of speech on social media platforms?

As students quickly raised their hands to give their opinion, Hoku Curnan, a junior marketing major responded by saying “I think people do not truly understand what freedom of speech is. Yes, you’re entitled to your opinion but only to a certain degree; there are certain things you cannot say, especially on those platforms because of the terms and conditions or policy rules that are on those social media platforms.”  

Curan then used an example of the Alex Johnson, who stated that the sandy hook story was staged by children and because of that, he’s now being sued.

Curan’s opinion, in a way answered the next question which was “in your opinion, what is the line that people need to cross to get kicked off of social media platforms?”

Pizza and Politics runs in the Leavitt Center every Wednesday from 12-1 p.m, join us next week to express your views, listen and most importantly learn.

Story by: Mar’Kiece Gross
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash