THE BLOG

Post Election Day Social Media: Freedom of Speech or Intolerance?

11/14/2012 03:33 pm ET | Updated Jan 14, 2013

Now that the craze of the coming presidential election has passed we can take a sigh of relief.

Whew! That was a lot to take in.

Oh, but wait -- we're not done yet. We still have all of the media there to help us reflect on the decisions that we made -- lamenting the bills that we voted on that did not pass, the candidates that we wanted to see elected versus reelected and all of the madness.

We have social media to thank for making us feel as though we were truly a part of the election. We have a voice and we were made to feel that each and every single one of our voices truly made a difference.

For every positive, there's its equal in the form of a negative. Some have taken advantage of that sounding board with little regard to the damage they do to their own public reputations or the effect they have on those around them.

In these days since the election we have seen our fair share of celebration and an equal amount of lament. People have taken to their soundboards, Facebook and Twitter, to express their dismay.

"I would just like to take this moment to thank America for turning the White House into the Negro Palace... After all, look how good the blacks have done with Compton, Oakland, Chicago, Detroit, Watts, and the other (f-----) up, hell zones of America... Thanks again and way to go..."

One of many examples of what has popped up on Facebook and Twitter. This gem was courtesy of a Northern California small business owner.

"Put the white back in The White House."

"And another 4 years of the (n-----). Maybe he will get assassinated this term!!"

The latter was a Facebook post that went viral and made national headlines. It even caught the attention of the Secret Service.

22-year-old Denise Helms of Turlock, Calif., lost her job as the store manager of a Cold Stone Creamery as a result of her comment.

The two individuals that made these comments have a bit in common. They are both conservatives, though not in their actions, and they both credit the First Amendment for granting the freedom of speech to make these abhorrent statements publicly.

Helms having been terminated from her job has brought up questions as to whether or not her rights under the First Amendment have been violated. Yes, her Facebook page was private -- but how private of an environment is the internet?

This is not a First Amendment issue. This is an issue of turning social media into a breeding ground for ignorance and intolerance. Cold Stone Creamery acted in its own best interests and preserved the respect that many African-Americans have fought to receive. Every time that word is used, it's a setback to an earlier time that many have fought to break free from while others work hard to preserve.

It's really quite amusing to see the perception that African-Americans and minority groups have of the Republican Party -- much of it is based off of intolerant behavior like what was exhibited in these comments.

In 1854, the Republican Party was founded by a group of renegade Democrats and members of the defunct Whig Party. The party was formulated to stand up in favor of abolishing slavery. One of history's greatest examples of two political parties working together to lead the nation into an era of tolerance and equality.

Would they be proud to see the Republican Party and its supporters of today?

Yes, the First Amendment grants us the right to freedom of speech. Without this right, how could we actively participate in the nation's political process? Our commentary is necessary to be involved and it's our civic duty to be involved in what we feel is best for our country.

The First Amendment protects our right to say what we wish freely without government interference, though this is typically when the comment does not come out in the form of a threat against the President of the United States.

It's our own responsibility to act in the best interests of ourselves. Look before you leap, think before you tweet.

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