Saturday, April 26, 2008

Freedom of Speech =/= Freedom from Judgment Speech

Yeah, it seems that some people get confused. It's very unfortunate, but on the bright side, I'm just glad that most of them can read.

Like most people, I am a pretty big fan of freedom of speech. Humans can not move foreword if different opinions, complaints, and ideas can't be heard due to legalized threatening and silencing of non-traditional thought.

But some (too many) people are mistaking this for something, well, a bit off-

That part of the First Amendment was towards the government, saying that a person can not become legally criminalized for (non-threateningly) running off their mouths, because historically governments have not been known to handle that very well: people start to magically disappear when someone says something negative about a regime or ruler. This was put in to stop governments from getting heavy handed and impeding social progress because they don't feel like changing it.

But in conversations where the free speech fallback is normally bandied about is when a defensive person asserts that they can say what they want and not have any negative repercussions for it, ever. Like their opinions became sacred and untouchable (more than others) and never reflect on them as a person. The Constitution does not cover that.

Yes, you are showing off a part of your character when you voice an opinion. If you have a sketchy opinion (that you apparently willingly shared) it is up to you and only you to save face if your character is called into question and you are not cool with it. Saving face, mind you, is fully optional (I've said many things without a slightest care what anyone thought of me), but it is no one's place to demand that others not think less of you just because you are legally safe to voice just about any opinion. Not to mention it's impossible for someone to not gain an impression of a person by their beliefs.

And also, free speech does not end with the sketchy opinion untouched. The people that called that person out, surprisingly enough, manages to have that same Constitutional right. Go figure. So their anti-you and your sketch beliefs are, unfortunately, equally valid in that sense. Their opinion that you should not say those things are valid, since virtually no one ever says that one should be legally prosecuted for saying anything. "Can" and "should" are not always the same thing.

The original reason of freedom of speech is to create an on-going dialogue to know when things are going wrong and when, why, and how things need to be changed. Too many times it's instead used as a tool to end conversations and to subdue non-traditional thought by shutting down the topic, and it warped so people can be heavy-handed and impede social progress because they don't feel like changing things.

I don't know if we went full circle or if we just never left the original point.

1 comment:

CronusKiller said...

Hey Anonymous-

I deleted your comment because it made zero sense here. I do happen to visit Racialicious fairly regularly btw.