A look at the First Amendment and freedom of speech in 2020

As we prepare to celebrate America’s birth, we wanted to take a look at what the freedom of speech looks like in today’s society.

Our First Amendment right has recently made some headlines, and there has been a lot of discussion over what is being called "cancel culture."

Some entertainers, like comedian Chris Rock, have refused to perform on college campuses because of social views and their unwillingness to not offend anybody.

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"It’s an ironic situation that universities which are supposed to be places where diverse viewpoints can be heard, aired and challenged have become very risk avert," University of Minnesota Professor of Media Ethics and Law Jane Kirtley said. "They just don’t want to deal with opposing viewpoints with people who will say I’m offended by this or I’m threatened by this or this makes me feel insecure or uncomfortable."

The risk of protest and controversy has caused some universities to choose not to allow people to speak or perform on campus.

"The way it’s often referred to in the law as heckler’s veto," Kirtley said. "The idea I disagree with you. I not only have the right to disagree. I have a right to shut you down, make you go away or not even appear in my campus."

Free speech was on display in protests after the death of George Floyd.

"Speech is such a powerful weapon. It’s so important that it really concerns me," Kirtley said. "People are so concerned that their view is right, that nobody else has an equal right to be heard. We all need to be First Amendment warriors believing that freedom of speech applies to everyone because if it doesn’t apply to everyone it applies to no one."