Do people have the right to hate?

Do people have the right to hate?

Diversity is something that I believe the university is lacking. It is common to see a lack of diversity in classes, yet because many people come from a single-race town so it doesn’t seem so bad. The posters came as a shock to me personally because I had never faced such blatant propaganda. One illustrated an opinion on how refugees suckle at the tit of America and deplete its resources. I almost laughed at the absurdity, but even as I tore it down the hateful message clung to me. How could someone spread such a cruel message? How could people harbor such anger toward an entire group of people without justification?


The university tells us that although they do not support the content of the messages, they support freedom of speech. So I can’t help but wonder, where do my freedoms begin? Am I free in a place where someone else tells me I am genetically inferior? Is it appropriate for me to read that my white mother made a catastrophic mistake by dating my black father? These messages tear apart the identity of our students, but we are expected to uphold and respect the right to be hated.


Students of color can find some solace in student organizations or friend groups. Knowing that you aren’t alone can bring comfort, even while your identity and worth is being attacked. These resources are important when issues like these arise because having community can influence how someone experiences these events. Yet the posters still come up in conversation. I am forced to remember the anger I felt, the shame, the sadness. This is the problem with hate speech. No matter what it says, or how incorrect it may be it is damaging. For this, I want to say I’m sorry to every student negatively impacted by these people’s decision to abuse their rights. I think the only way to create a better environment is to actively teach that just because you have the freedom to say something doesn’t mean you should. It is important to not group entire communities together, this is how bias happens. When you stop seeing people as they are due to preconceived beliefs, you miss out on important aspects of their character. As future healthcare professionals, we have to be able to take any bias out of our mind to properly treat patients. Viewing each person as an individual who deserves respect creates a more inclusive and accepting environment for everyone.


My questions for you all are: Do you think that freedom of speech should encompass hate speech? What restrictions should be in place to prevent messages like these from infiltrating a supposedly safe learning environment?


7 thoughts on “Do people have the right to hate?

  1. Week 5- Current Events on Campus

    In the midsts of reading the racist comments that were posted around campus, I realized something that was very unsettling. I realized that even though the racists comments enraged me, I also had an indifferent attitude about the situation. When I say I was indifferent, I mean that I was not surprised that this had happened. I was more unsettled by the fact that came here expectant of such behaviors being advocated and I was nearly desensitized by the situation. I came to the University of Michigan with expectations that there would be many prejudices and racist ideals portrayed during my time here. This is a problem; this was more chilling to me than the actual posters. What type of world do we live in where a 19 year old girl has been attacked for her ethnicity so many times, that she grown numb to these inflicting attacks, no matter where she goes?

    Once I was admitted into the University of Michigan, this became my school too! I should not, nor should any member of a social minority come to a place and expect to have to endure ignorant and hateful speech such as what we endured two weeks ago. I agree with the freedom of speech, but I feel as though at an educational institution, some things have to be restricted.

    Just as the University of Michigan has its own definition for what constitutes as sexual assault, the University should have a less forgiving definition of what hate speech is. Minorities have endured tribulations for centuries and even still, we have to deal with issues that no one else does. UMich should not promote free speech (to its full extent) because this is a educational community. People should not just learn from classes, they should learn in this environment that racists act are not justified. People who choose to harm the well being of others at this institution should be reprimanded. This university seems to forget that emotional pain is just as dangerous as the physical.

  2. In response to the blog leader’s question, “Do you think that freedom of speech should encompass hate speech? What restrictions should be in place to prevent messages like these from infiltrating a supposedly safe learning environment?”, I believe the atrocious messages like the ones seen on campus will affect the people that allow it to affect them. Legally, the University of Michigan has no right to tell these people to take down the posters or that they cannot speak their hateful words. However, UMich can enlighten the student body on the importance of diversity and social justice. Coming from a rural, predominantly white community, Ann Arbor is like a new world to me, full of diversity. The actions of this hateful group do not reflect the University of Michigan in any way, shape, or form.

    Escaping ignorance and intolerance is impossible. The University of Michigan is about as good as it gets. While the posters on campus should not go unnoticed, it is also important to stay composed. This is a learning experience. Situations like this are small tastes of the real world. Being affected by these posters is a choice. Obviously ignorant and full of hate, this group of people will never earn my anger, because they do not even deserve that.

    The universe is a diverse place, unfortunately, it is not fully comprised of peace and love. I believe these messages only tear apart the identities of students if these students allow the messages to do so. I know who I am and I know my background. No poster could ever make me think twice about that or force me to lose pride. Students need to be strong and smart.

    Learning about backgrounds, cultures, and identities is crucial for the student body in Ann Arbor to grow and think together. As a HSSPer and member of a community filled with pre-health professionals, it is very important for us to learn from this issue on campus. Professionals in the health field deal with issues much more serious than this and have to know how to handle it and how to learn from it. This is a great learning opportunity for us as new students on campus to think critically and learn about ourselves and classmates.

    This situation, in my mind, relates to Dr. Strecher’s presentation earlier this year in HSSP. He passionately discussed purpose and public health. He taught us, a life without purpose is one unworthy of examination. These posters, designed with a hateful purpose, are therefore unworthy of my examination and time. If someone’s purpose is as hateful as that, I will have no part in it and will never let it affect me.

    A place is as safe as an individual wants it to be. For myself, Ann Arbor and HSSP is a beautifully diverse community. I am eager to learn and grow together with my fellow Wolverines when unfortunate events like these occur.

    We are the Leaders and Best. WE must stick together and WE must believe in LOVE.


  3. As an African American, of course I was beyond frustrated when I heard about the fliers. But at the same time, I wasn’t really shocked. I was prepared to encounter some type of hate speech while here, I just didn’t think it would be this soon. So, just like any other upset young adult, I called my mom. She said, “Well, you knew this was gonna happen. Baby, there will always be someone who just doesn’t like us. You can’t really blame them though; some people just don’t know any better. It is a learned mindset.”
    At that moment, I thought that my mom had to be the wisest person ever, because that was the truth. Racism is a learned mindset. Babies don’t leave the womb knowing the difference between skin colors and decide to hate the ones other than their own. It is a learned mindset that dates all the way back to when the first amendment, which included freedom of speech and press, was written. It was written at a time where hateful speech against minorities was socially accepted, therefore, freedom of speech included freedom of hateful speech. As time went on, this idea of freedom of hateful speech continued, hundreds of years later, to now, even though social standards have slightly changed.
    The only way we can completely erase this mindset is by starting with our youth. Teachers should do a better job of teaching their students about racial issues that are going on today, and encourage them to change the situation by teaching them that hateful speech is not acceptable. Schools should also find a way to make their schools more diverse. I grew up in predominantly black schools all my life, and we constantly talked about racism and slavery. That may be the reason why I was so immune to the hateful speech, but what about other schools? For many people, Umich is the most diverse place they had ever been to. And that learned mindset against diversity comes out, because as kids they weren’t taught that diversity was okay and hateful speech wasn’t. Just like the University is doing now, creating a safe place for diversity and discussions about race and allowing students to learn about this topics, schools beginning from kindergarten should be doing the same.

  4. It’s always a hard task to come up with this arbitrary line that distinguishes freedom of speech rights from unlawful hateful speech. If it were up to me I would say that these racist posters should not be tolerated and the students who posted these flyers should receive some sort of consequence.

    However, I also do acknowledge the fact that we all have our rights to freedom of speech. But when we come to a point where people are abusing their rights to an extent that others are being targeted and hurt, it is time for our community to stand up and draw a line between what is tolerable and what is not. The University of Michigan is a place where diversity thrives–why allow such hateful posters do demolish an aspect of our community that we value so much?

    When we come together as a community and condemn such hateful acts from happening we are able to show others that such hate speech should not and will not be tolerated. I do not believe that freedom of speech should encompass hate speech and I love how our university has come together to support each other during these racial occurrences. We must let it be known that there is no place for racism on and off campus so that step by step we can encourage and foster a truly safe learning environment.

  5. I agree that freedom of speech is a difficult issue to define, especially when it comes to hateful actions such as this one. Putting up these discriminatory posters in public places on campus is covered under the right to freedom of speech, but university mottos make it clear that this sort of behavior is unacceptable.
    I think that it’s important to preserve freedom of speech but also important to show people with harmful things to say that their words have no place in in supportive spaces such as the University of Michigan. Although it is not technically illegal to post these messages, I think the university should make an effort to show solidarity with minority groups.

  6. This specific blog leader’s post truly stood out to me amongst the others. I grew up in a predominantly white community, from a white family, with an extremely racist father. My entire life I was asking that same question, “How could people harbor such anger toward an entire group of people without justification?” I never have understood and doubt that I ever will.

    I have never looked at someone and based on their skin color decided they were different from me. One specific event that really shook me was about a year ago. I was singing with my a cappella group at a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr memorial event, and we accompanied a woman named Sheila Brown who was INSANELY talented. I had previously met Mrs. Brown because she starred in our school’s production of Hairspray, and I was in awe when I got to talk to her before we sang. When I got home from the event, I was excitedly telling my family all about it and my dad says, “this woman was black?” and I said “yes, that wasn’t the point of my story though.” and continued on with my story. He kept interjecting with racist comments and so eventually I just asked him, “why do you think they are below you just because of their skin colors?” and he said something along the lines of “we have different cultures” with racial slurs inserted after. This struck me because yes, there are different cultures associated with different skin colors but that in NO way qualifies white people as better.

    I do not personally think freedom of speech should include hate speech. I have no idea what restrictions should be put in place though, because I am not entirely certain that a restriction would stop those with the hateful opinions from sharing them.

  7. In an ideal world, freedom of speech should not encompass hate speech, but where do you draw the line. What one person thinks might be offensive, another person may not think it is. By putting restrictions on an individual of their speech, one person may think it violates their freedom of speech where others might think restrictions should be put in place. If everyone could use the thought process of taking out the bias in everyday life like they would as a healthcare professional, we would not experience so many of these problems and not have to wear so many different hats. While it is good in theory, I’m not sure if every person would abide by this. I would certainly try to do this.

Leave a Reply