To the Journal editor:
Please pardon my compulsion to respond to what other readers may write. I don't wish to bore you with thoughts most reasonable people already think. However, the recent letter titled "Remarks were hurtful" compels me again.
This letter refers to the comments of Citgo owner Krist Atanasoff in which he describes Native Americans who plan to operate a Marquette gas station as "thieves, convicted felons, and tax evaders", a statement he now appears to retract from. Good decision. I do not take issue with Mr. Atanasoff or those who were offended and I am not well informed on this dispute.
My issue with "Remarks were hurtful" was the part that said "this is not free speech." My question is, why not? I am not a constitutional scholar but I do believe we are free to say what we wish to say. Our constitution does not protect us from having our feelings hurt. Nor does it protect us from folks who may say things that are insensitive, incorrect, biased, racial, or for many reasons are later apologized for.
We all have the right to make observations during our lifetime, draw conclusions from those observations, and state what those conclusions are.
If the observations, conclusions, and words are about other people or groups of people who become upset because they don't like the words, then so be it, they are just words and they are just as free to say what they wish about those words. The modern propensity to use the term "hate speech" is itself often founded on intolerance rather than good judgment.
Freedom and limitations are contradictions and it is clearly illogical to say that words we don't agree with are not free speech. The beauty in free speech is that both the speaker and the listeners have it and we all must confront the ramifications of what we say.