Free Speech with a Cost

by Nia Peake ‘23

Far-right theorists Alex Jones has haunted the families whose children were victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting after he wrongfully claimed the shooting was a hoax and the families were “crisis actors”. Recently, a jury ordered Jones to pay nearly $1 billion in damages. While families are still trying to heal from both the tragic loss of their loved ones and the harmful comments made, there is yet another family that is affected by the crude comments from a public figure. Rapper Kanye West, now known as Ye, is being sued for $250 million by the family of George Floyd after he spread misinformation regarding Floyd’s death. Whether it be because they think their stardom gives them immunity to share their insensitive opinions or because they do it to get a rise out of people, celebrities deserve to be held accountable.

Being someone in the public eye with a reachable platform, there needs to be caution and responsibility when choosing to make harsh comments especially when there are grieving families at hand who inevitably have to deal with the consequences of having a bunch of strangers harass them with accusations fueled by wrong information. While there seems to be a blurred line between free speech and defamation, it’s difficult to categorize these harmful opinions as free speech when there is evidence directly opposing the “opinion”.