As a 2020 high school graduate and current college freshman who suffered great losses because of the panicked reactions from our government to this pandemic, I have two words: I’m angry!

I’m thankful I have the freedom to say that. For now.

Someone else has the freedom to tell me to get over myself. I would welcome that frank exchange of ideas.

The First Amendment must be cherished and defended with the same ferocity and undying loyalty that our Founding Fathers displayed in their effort to establish it in the first place. It seems the new trend is when presented with an opposing viewpoint, rather than making the goal to win the debate, some instead try to end the debate. The difference this “cancel culture” makes is the chasm between freedom and oppression.

Maybe it began back when universities introduced the idea that students couldn’t handle challenging ideas. That is ridiculous. I don’t need a “safe space,” but I do require a free country.

“You don’t have a First Amendment right to lie,” claimed CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers on Feb. 2. Actually, yes, the First Amendment is the protection of speech, whether it is true or not. Especially if it’s not true, I argue.

If you must be “fact checked” before you may speak, you didn’t have the freedom to speak in the first place. Your freedom was simply allowed by the powers that be. That is not freedom.

In the wake of a flurry of criticism, Rodgers tweeted, “That was wrong — obviously people can lie." Columbia University’s Kimberly Marten recalled an encounter with Vladimir Putin.

“'Mr. Putin, your opponents would argue that you are limiting freedom of expression in Russia.' ... I figured he would say, Oh, it’s a lie, we’re not limiting anything. And instead, he gave a very interesting response. He said, 'Of course we’re limiting freedom of expression. … You can talk about freedom of expression in your comfortable democracy, but remember it took you several hundred years to get here. ...'”

Why would Americans willingly give up one inch of ground we’ve gained in those several hundred years?