Speech: Inherently Free

Fiona Zhao, Copy Editor

Throughout the ugly course of our history, man’s propensity for hate—and, perhaps more alarmingly, certain leaders’ ability to mobilize hate—has led to a plethora of prominent “hate groups”—organizations aimed at advocating hostility through physical and verbal abuse towards specific groups—designated by categories such as race, religion, or sexual orientation—simply out of hate. Just as regular communities and organizations have the right to demonstrate and express their beliefs and opinions, extremists within hate groups participate in a number of demonstrations and violent attacks. News outlets document the actions and testimony of a number of demonstrators within organizations, most controversially that of extremists in today’s politically supercharged environment. Despite the well-intentioned backlash, media coverage of the hate group remains necessary to both uphold journalistic values and assist in providing the nation for a more objective viewpoint of these otherwise polarizing hate groups.

Inclusiveness of all groups’ views within a news report, regardless of the publication’s opinion of said groups, is important. Though the notion of true “objectivity” remains a controversial ideal within the field of journalism, most journalists aim for relative fairness and objectivity. However, most news outlets take a specific standing anywhere within the political spectrum. Well-intentioned concerns of critics against the representation of hate groups in the media argue that due to news outlets’ ideological beliefs and the vague definition of “hate groups”, accidental slander of non-hate groups or advantageous promotion of hate groups is completely possible.

America’s political climate is dominated by partisanship, and within this environment, the sheer definition of the “hate group”, due to fundamental differences in party beliefs, remains ever the more ambiguous. However, if mainstream news outlets do opt to block hate groups, the most far-left and far-right news outlets will only continue their discussion and promotion of extremist views and have more leverage to point to the mainstream media as biased against extremism. Currently, for instance, backlash against left-leaning news outlets by far-right groups and publications often point to supposedly blatant bias— something affirmed should hate groups be blocked altogether—against any “conservative” view.

Should news outlets opt to ban the voices of hate groups in their publications, hate groups would simply retaliate through an even harsher social media campaign. Though critics advocating for the end of representing extremist organizations argue that hate groups would be receiving dangerous publicity if talked about in the media, news outlets, even including quotations and statements from these hate groups, would provide an account that would not favor or glorify their actions. Though the “fairness” and “accuracy” of a news piece may seem questionable to some, the report’s words regarding the extremist groups would be far more objective than that of an extremist group’s aggressive social media campaign. Vulnerable people otherwise considering joining a hate group, through reading a more objective piece about the extremist group’s actions, would likely think twice about joining.

For the sake of retaining some amount of fairness, representing all viewpoints in a news piece is necessary. All speech is inherently free.