ISSUE: Freedom of Speech, Protection for Legal and Political Speech
The speech rights of Americans are being violated by corporations. This has led me to ask some questions.
Are restaurants allowed to discriminate against me because I am Puerto Rican?
Are they allowed to discriminate against me because I’m brown or because I’m male or because I’m a Christian or because I’m heterosexual?
If a restaurant cannot discriminate against me for those reasons, then why can they because I posted a message online they disagreed with? Why is speech beneath all other categories? Sure, it would be upsetting to be discriminated because of race or ethnicity, but that is not in the constitution, and as long as I can go to another restaurant, it doesn’t seem to be a big deal, either.
That is not our response to discrimination by race. We fight such discrimination. We outlawed it. We bring lawsuits. We send in EEOC. We shame businesses that practice it. No politician would remain silent if they heard of some business that did so. From President to Dog Catcher, we would hear statements and rebukes.
For speech discrimination our elected officials are silent. No speeches rebuking this form of discrimination.
I ask – why are Americans being discriminated against because of speech?
Why are we reading stories of people being fired for an unpopular but completely legal opinion they shared?
Why are people being fired for what a family member shared?
Why is our right to free speech not being protected?
The law protects me from discrimination by race.
The law doesn’t protect me from discrimination by speech.
When people meet me they have some questions about Puerto Ricans.
They may be surprised about how much diversity we have in our appearance – from our diversity of skin tones, to facial features, to hair texture, to the different peoples we descend from.
I have witnessed the surprised look from many Americans of various ethnicities when I share pictures of my family.
My race, ethnicity, and who I descend from cannot change hearts and minds.
Only my speech can do that.
When we consider the revolution of 1776, it wasn’t simply a revolt against King and Parliament; it was also a revolt against the East India Company. We depend on you to defend our rights from all attacks.
Will you be working to protect our freedom of speech from corporations that use impoverishment as a weapon to extort, intimidate, and silence us?