To speak or not to speak


Christi Carras

Bryte Bu, junior, struggles with the weight of his words.

In the light of recent events, the debate over freedom of speech has never

been more prevalent in the media. It’s easy to forget the rights entitled to all of us

here at Central and America in general. But how safe are our rights when people are being killed over cartoons?

Our own Constitution guarantees the right to free speech. We were taught

from a young age to express our feelings freely. However, we were also taught to say

nice things to each other and limit our comments of malicious intentions. Even at

Central there have been kids who have received severe punishments for saying

things that could be considered offensive or threatening to other students. That

begs a simple question: Should freedom of speech have limits?


This is a complex issue that many students face on a daily basis. A student

may want to make a joke that he or she knows may be insensitive to a certain

demographic; however, the student may fear possible repercussions for telling the

joke. In my opinion, the student should consider the pros and cons of telling the

joke, the intent of the joke, as well as his or her willingness to accept the potential

consequences. However, fear alone should never be a reason for someone to not

speak freely.


While Central hosts a variety of clubs and people, it is easy to say things that

may offend certain people without the intention of doing so. I have often felt the

need to censor myself when I speak out loud. I do this not out of fear of being

reprimanded by a teacher but out of my desire to not hurt anyone else’s feelings. It

is important to remember that our words do carry a lot of weight, whether or not

we believe they do. This power should be used responsibly.

Other students have expressed similar sentiments.


“Hinsdale Central provides a very open environment for debate and

discussions,” said Craig Smith, junior. “I feel that I have the right to express my

opinions and thoughts freely. However, there is a major difference between saying

what you want and inciting violence. In that case, freedom of speech should not



“I have felt the need to censor myself before, especially in political papers,”

said Hoyoon Kim, senior. “I had to argue my side, but I also felt the need to adhere

to school rules. I try to keep my comments ethical, but I have seen other people

threaten others over social media like Facebook. I think people should have the right

to say what they want, as long as it’s meaningful and positive.”


It is clear that students here at Central often feel safe enough to express their

minds, but are also keenly aware of the potential harms of totally unrestrained

speech. We are all at an age where we can judge the value of what we have to say. It is

up to us to make sure we do not abuse a fundamental right or we risk having our

rights stricken from us.


Regardless of where people may stand on this issue, no person should ever

be killed over something that he or she said. With that sentiment, my prayers and

thoughts go out to the families affected by such violence. Je suis Charlie.