The Limits of Free Speech, or…

…Fuck a Duck and See what Hatches.

So, I had planned to write something about compassion, given the time of the year, but reactions to current events have invoked in me a whole different topic.

I’m certain, if you consume media in any form, that you have recently seen all the uproar over the fake controversy surrounding a certain reality TV star and his comments in a certain magazine interview.

In brief, my views on that are:

.

.

.

Nope, don’t give a fuck.

Wait, let me check again…

.

.

.

…Nope, still no fucks given.

It’s a fake controversy and doesn’t matter at all to our daily lives on this planet. What goes on between him and his employer is between him and his employer unless some law has been broken, and so far, I haven’t been able to find one that has.

What has usurped my attention, as of late, is the various reactions to this non-event. In particular, the misguided uproar from segments of the populace about The First Amendment, and Free Speech, and even, holy shit, Religious Persecution. And to that I say…

.

.

.

…Jesus H. Tap Dancing Christ.

Really people? Fucking really?

Okay, I’m going to lay it out for you, in brief at first, in case you don’t have much of a reading window just now.

There are two limits to the Freedom of Speech. They are:

1) One’s speech cannot materially harm another.

(this is, in this country at least, enshrined in various laws; slander, libel, and the like.)

-and-

2) One can not shirk one’s responsibility for one’s speech.

(freedom of speech is not freedom from criticism.)

So, I’ll expand a little on that second one, as I think the first one is fairly self explanatory, and pretty easy to research on one’s own.

Here’s the thing, in this country, anybody can say whatever he/ she wants. We have laws that protect unpopular speech and forms of expression. That is important for the functioning of our democracy, and probably for the basic functioning of our society – if we are to live together in something like peace.

But in no case should a person have a reasonable expectation that his/ her speech will go without criticism.

If any one person can speak as he/ she wishes, then it must follow that any other person can do likewise.

Following me? Good.

You can say whatever you like, but you also have to accept the consequences of doing so.

It’s basic causality, with a dash of personal responsibility thrown in for flavor. And that is just the way it works. If you express a view at all, expect that there will be others, out in this increasingly connected world, who not only will not share your opinion, but may actively disagree with you and wish to say so publicly. And you know what?..

…That is their right, just as it was yours.

Period. Unless, of course, you want to be that arrogant prick that thinks he/ she should have rights that no one else should have.

You’re not that prick, are you?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

So, back to the fake, stupid controversy.

At the very bottom, when you strip away all the nonsense that’s been piled on to the non-event, what we have is an employee, who represents the brand of his employer, speaking publicly in a way that could harm the brand. The employer, as is the employer’s right to do, suspends said employee.

That’s all there is to it.

Nothing else.

Just how much nothing else? Sure, I’ll tackle that one.

Firstly, (as is proper), The First Amendment Bullshit:

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects citizens from oppression/ repression by the government. That’s all. Just the government.

The last time I checked, the government had nothing to do with this. They are, so far as I can find, in no way involved in this.

That’s that moronic crap debunked.

Secondly, the Religious Persecution Bullshit:

This man can call himself a Christian all he wants. No one is criticizing him for being a Christian.

He is being criticized because his statements show him to be a bigot. That’s it.

The fact that he is hiding behind his so-called religious beliefs just makes him a bigot and a coward.

Now, some of you may me asking, “But Tess, how would you, an atheist, know anything about religious beliefs?”

Well, because I wasn’t always an atheist. And because I have read three different versions of The Bible, (the N.I.V., the King James Authorized – original and revised -, and the Baptist Paraphrased Bible), and, whereas I cannot quote much chapter and verse to you, I can tell you, with a reasonable amount of certainty that Jesus is never reported to have said anything about or against homosexuals. Nothing. Not a word in three different Bibles. There’s probably nothing in the original Greek manuscripts either, given the nature of Greek society at the time of the writing of the Gospels.

But I can paraphrase a couple of things Jesus is reported to have said, namely: love one another as I have loved you – and  – whatsoever you do for the least among you, you also do for me.

As for these people who want to devolve back to Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Numbers, well, I wonder how many of them work on Saturday – the Sabbath – or wear blends of fabrics, or keep kosher, or sacrifice on the high holy days? Just how many of them will have Christmas Hams this year?

Yeah, picking and choosing what scripture supports one’s bigoted beliefs has never impressed me either.

The thing is, this man might consider himself a Christian, but he certainly isn’t acting like a follower of Christ. I don’t see love or tolerance in his words and deeds. I don’t see someone using religion to be more connected with God. I see someone using selective bits of religious doctrine to abuse others and to justify unjustifiable opinions.

Pretty sure that falls under the category of What Would Jesus Not Do?

And, I don’t know if you’ve figured this out or not, but we can know what a person values by his/ her actions. Words mean Jack and shit, and Jack has left the building. You can say whatever you like. What you do tells the rest of the world what you truly value, even if you don’t see it yourself.

Lastly, a Wake up Call:

Something that I am sure the people so vocally excoriating the TV network, for their response to this man’s public actions, do not realize when railing about free speech is that they, (the railers), are hypocrites.

I said it. What?

They’re hypocrites because they are defending one person’s right to “free speech” by trying to limit someone else’s.

My only solace in that is, I believe, these people are just too emotionally worked up to realize that fact. Maybe when they calm down, they’ll see it.

To defend one man’s right to express himself, and his views, by attacking another for doing the exact same thing – expressing their views – is the height of hypocrisy.

As a private enterprise, the TV network has the right to ensure that it is seen to be expressing itself in whatever manner it wishes. There’s a reason you don’t see Glenn beck on A&E. He would not represent them as they wish to be represented. And, as a private company, they have the right to make sure they, and their brand, are represented in a way that they think best expresses their values.

Got that?

Most Importantly, what worries me is a culture that can not see through this non-event. A culture that can not see the fact of the matter, and see that it really doesn’t matter.

Seriously, doesn’t matter. At all.

Stacked up against Man’s Inhumanity/ Indifference to Man, this isn’t even a blip on the radar. It’s not even a speck of rust on the crushing treads of that lumbering juggernaut.

You have a family, and friends, and hell, maybe even a day off or two coming up.

Please spend some time experiencing those things; love, companionship, rest.

Leave this Duck Bullshit to drown in the stagnant pond of its own irrelevancy.

Oh, and stop back by in the next day or two. I might just be able to get back to the subject of compassion for a word or two.

Either way, to believers and non-believers alike, have a happy holiday, a merry Christmas, and a happy New Year. You deserve it…

…Every one.

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About tessarnold2

I'm a writer, a student, and someone generally crazy enough to think other people will be interested in his deranged thoughts.
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