Free Speech and the Snowflakes

Maeve Healy


The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “snowflake” as an “overly sensitive or easily offended person, or one who believes they are entitled to special treatment on account of their supposedly unique characteristics.” The term originated in the 1996 film Fight Club, one of the most well known lines being “You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.” However, over the years, the term has grown to connote much more than just Fight Club; “snowflake” has not just popular culture ties, but also political ties. Nowadays, the term is often confused as a synonym for a person of the Millennial generation defined as people born between the years of 1981-1996.

All American citizens and visitors are granted rights while in the country, and arguably the most important one is the right of free speech. In the US, all people are allowed to publicly protest for whatever cause they support. Unfortunately, the right to protest also gives the right to insult people’s political opponents, rather than stand up for their own beliefs and protest for their own causes.

A “snowflake” nowadays is typically used as an insult hurled at millenial liberals who use their free speech to protest injustices as they see fit. It’s hypocritical by those who use it as an insult, as they choose to resort to taunts instead of creating arguments explaining their own opinions. Tomi Lahren, a conservative commentator at Fox News (previously worked for The Blaze), has called several American millennials “snowflakes.” One person frequently targeted as a “snowflake” is Colin Kaepernick, a millenial. He is often mocked by her for kneeling during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice. An additional example of people who are targeted by Ms. Lahren with the “snowflake” term are women who receive abortions at tax funded organizations such as Planned Parenthood, which is a government funded institution for women and men’s sexual and reproductive health.

That being said, the exact same situation happens to those at the opposite end of the spectrum: the conservative “extremist” or “deplorable.” These insults are used by people such as Ms. Karen Bass (D), a representative of California’s 37th congressional district (Los Angeles area). In April of 2019, she said that the Republican party had been seized by a group of “extremists,” because she disagreed with the way that the Mueller report was being handled. Hillary Clinton (D), 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, has insulted conservatives as Ms. Bass did. Around two months before the general election, Mrs. Clinton attacked Mr. Trump’s supporters by saying she labels half of them as “the basket of deplorables.” The slurs flung by both sides are polarizing and divide Americans on their views rather than pushing political discussion. It seems as though the insults from either side will never stop.

With many using their right to free speech to attack the other side’s argument with insults, rather than arguments, tension will continue to rise between the GOP and the Democratic Party. Disagreement between parties is okay, but insults are absolutely not. Until politicians and people who identify on opposite ends of the spectrum can argue their own side and stop calling each other names, the American people will stay frustrated and Americans on either side of the issues will remain polarized.

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