The following is a list of all entries from the First Amendment category.
Here is a question – does freedom of speech truly exist, or is this a fallacy that has been propagated over the years? Mind you, I am not specifically talking about the First Amendment which states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The government already has shown that limitations exist on free speech such as in the case of Brandenburg v. Ohio which states, essentially that the government cannot restrict speech unless it is “inciting and likely to incite imminent lawless action”. Also, as we’ve recently seen, the First Amendment does not cover obscene material either.
What I am talking about is the ability to say what is on your mind, in a public setting, without the entire nation calling you a racist. For example, Universities have the ability to restrict speech if racial, ethnic or sexual slurs are used and there are a number of cases where companies have fired individuals for blogging.
I understand that, in some cases, laws may have been broken (a blogger posted company secrets, a direct verbal or written attack may have been made) but what about someone who is just speaking their mind – even if you don’t like what is being said? What exactly does this mean for freedom of speech?
The truth of the matter is, I believe, is that we as free individuals should have the ability say whatever we want. We should have the ability to say nigger, boogey, jig, jiggaboo, skinhead, moylie, molignon, schvotza, jungle bunny, greaser, greaseball, dago, guinea, wop, ginzo, kyke, zebe, hebe, yid, mockey, himey, mick, donkey, turkey, limey, frog, zip, zipperhead, squarehead, kraut, hiney, geri, hun, slope, slopehead, chink, gook, bush nigger, cabbie, towel head, sand nigger, camel jockey, honkey, cracker, olive nig, beef curtain, goombah, twinkie, cupcake if we want to without automatically being called a racist by someone (or some organization).
These words, in and of themselves, mean nothing – they are just words. It’s the context of how the words are use, the emotion and experience(s) connected to the words and the individuals that hear them is what causes a problem.
It seems to me that society has become more sensitive over time (call it overly PC if you well), has selective hearing when it comes to certain things, and is ready to attempted to restrict you ability to say what you want at the drop of a hat.
One time I was out at dinner with some friends and I was telling a story about a how someone in my family was called a “spear chucker”. As the couple next to us got up to leave, the female came up to my table and said that I was a racist because of my use of “spear chucker” and that she was going to complain to the manager of the restaurant.
Subsequently, the manager came to our table asking us to pay our bill and leave because of our actions. I attempted to explain the situation but my story was falling on deaf ears – that is until my parents came, just by chance, to the same establishment. Once the manager looked at my family, he understood the situation and was extremely apologetic.
The woman who came up to the table didn’t hear the entire conversation (ie – selective hearing) but assumed that my actions and speech were inappropriate based on her beliefs and biases. I should have the ability to say anything without being penalized by society as long as I am not “inciting and likely to incite imminent lawless action.”
This is a muted example, but what about someone who is racist? What about someone who says zipperhead and means it when talking? The same should be true – they should have the ability to say it without being attacked by others.
Slowly, it seems as if those “rights” to express views are being modified and limited. Society has swung to the point where it is overly governing it’s own actions. We need to be careful because, eventually, this behavior or self-censorship will creep into other things. (like hunting, going to certain types of movies, certain places to eat – what have you) If one chooses to use this language, we as a people, need to recognize the actions for what they are – ignorant, uneducated, or insensitive.
We should let the actions of others reflect who they truly are and we, I feel, should not attempted to restrict them from being ignorant, uneducated or insensitive. We just need to recognize their right to freedom of speech… and then we need to recognize our right to think that they are assholes.