On Freedom of Speech

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”
~Joe Klaas~
(Twelve Steps to Happiness)

When I write these commentaries it is never my intent, nor has it ever been, to piss people off. That said, I know that the things I say, do in fact, piss many people off; and, quite possibly, harbor ill will towards me. Although much of what I write includes my own personal opinions; those opinions are based upon the knowledge I have gained from countless hours of study. How many hours of research have gone into the opinions and beliefs you hold, if I may ask? I may not always be right; and I will admit that I am wrong if someone can provide overwhelming evidence to prove it. However, I will not tolerate fools who think their personal opinions should be given more weight than opinions which are supported by undeniable facts and evidence.

That is why, although I often quote our nation’s Founders, and other assorted political thinkers, this quote by Isaac Asimov is one of my favorites; particularly when describing how I feel about the public in general, “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”

How can people claim that honesty is a cherished virtue; yet when these same people are presented with, what are often uncomfortable truths, those truths are, more often than not, shunned and rejected? Don’t you find that a bit paradoxical? I certainly do.

I’d like to share another quote, this time from Leo Tolstoy, which shows the importance of being open to new ideas, or at least ideas which conflict with existing beliefs, “Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it essential for right thinking.” Asimov does not say what ‘right thinking’ is, but I would take it to mean critical thinking; the ability to analyze facts from both sides of an argument, and come to a conclusion based upon the weight of the evidence; not just the statements which pander to, and support their own personal beliefs.

Unfortunately, critical thinking is not something that I see occurring with enough frequency in this country. In today’s politically correct, touchy-feely society, harsh truths and reality is, more often than not, the object of scorn and derision; things to be avoided at all cost. Name calling and insults are hurled at those who attempt to share unpleasant truths to the overwhelmingly ignorant masses.

I cannot count the times I’ve been called names or turned in for sharing the opinions I’ve formed based upon the things I’ve learned. Like I said, I may not always be right, and if you can prove me wrong I’ll gladly admit that I was; but don’t try to silence me simply because I offended your precious feelings with truths you couldn’t handle.

While I support anyone’s right to question the things I say, I support no one’s belief that, if they have no facts and evidence of their own to support their belief, or that if the truth hurts their feelings, then they have the right to demand that I remain silent. Not only do I find that an almost unpardonable sin, I also find those who cow tow to the PC crowd to be weak in character and unwilling to stand for their convictions.

You see, whether people like it or not, there is a little thing in this country called the First Amendment; which protects the freedom of speech and expression. The First Amendment does not grant us this right; it protects a pre-existing right which our Founders felt to be of such importance they amended the Constitution of the United States to ensure it survived any attempt to restrict. And, for those of you who dislike unpleasant truths, here’s another one; the Second Amendment, for all you who favor stricter gun control, was put into place just in case anyone decided to try and restrict the other 9 amendments in the Bill of Rights; and insurance policy, so to speak.

Getting back to the First Amendment, I believe that a person has the right to say whatever they want; but at the same time others have the right to question the things that are being said. That is the foundation of open honest debate. If you take away one side’s ability to counter arguments then there is no honesty in debate; it becomes a one sided affair in which one other viewpoint has been rendered defenseless.

Therefore, when you are discussing issues, particularly hot topic issues, you had better come prepared to defend your viewpoint with facts to support them or suffer the humiliating consequences of having your views torn to shreds. I have found that this is when people begin hurling insults; because their argument has no evidence to support it and the only way they can win an argument is by attempting to slander the messenger; while avoiding entirely the message.

People seem to take it personal when I attempt to share the things I’ve learned. I have nothing against people per se; I only care about the truth. I take every person I meet as they are. If they lie to me; can’t back up their opinions with facts; try to deprive me of something which is not theirs to take; or simply lazy, I will treat them accordingly. This has nothing to do with their nationality; their gender; their political party affiliation; or their sexual preference. I could care less about those things, and if you really knew me you would not hurl the insults at me which have been directed towards me because of the things I have said.

But oh, if I do not support Hillary for president there will be those who call me sexist; just as some called me racist for not supporting Obama. If I stand for strict enforcement of immigration laws, I’m a racist. If I stand for a strict adherence to the Constitution and the sanctity of my unalienable rights; I am a right wing nut job. If I believe that we have not been told the truth about 9/11 then I am a conspiracy theorist. The list of names I’ve been called goes on and on, all the while those calling me these vile names have absolutely no evidence to support their own viewpoints other than what they hear from the lame stream media.

Now be honest with yourselves; does that sound like a country where freedom of speech exists? In a letter written to the officers of the United States Army, dated 15 March, 1783, George Washington uttered the following words, “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

When political correctness prevails and concerns whether something somebody says or does is going to hurt someone else’s feelings, freedom of speech has already died. And it’s not just freedom of speech either.

The First Amendment, as written into the Bill of Rights, 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.”

Along with the above listed rights is also the right to freedom of expression. Freedom of expression is what allows people to display images that others do not like and it allows people to protest in manners which others find offensive.

Take this whole Colin Kaepernick thing, with him refusing to stand during the national anthem. It is wholly within his right to refuse to stand during the national anthem, if he so chooses. Also, unless the NFL or the San Francisco 49’ers have something in their rulebooks which demand he stand during the playing of the national anthem, there is nothing they can do to force him to do so.

However, at the same time the public has the right to decry his acts and call him unpatriotic. The public also has the right to boycott games in which he plays; and should the 49er’s make a business decision that having an unpopular quarterback who is causing them to sell less seats at their games; they can choose to fire him.

But, and this is a BIG BUT, no one has the right to demand he stand if his conscience dictates that standing during the national anthem goes against his own personal beliefs. Whether I agree with his actions or not is irrelevant; I support his right to act as he sees fit; as long as in so doing he does not cause my rights or yours to be infringed. And the last time I checked, having my feelings hurt or me being offended were not among the things protected by Constitutional amendment.

Although this is by no means a legal maxim, while researching for this I went to the website Wikipedia and looked up freedom of speech. This is what they had to say on the matter, “Freedom of speech is the right to articulate one’s opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or censorship, or societal sanction. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.”

So you see, not only are Congress prohibited from restricting one’s freedom of speech and expression, society cannot restrict it either just because they find what is being said or displayed are offensive. While there are certain guidelines which ban the public display of things like pornography, this freedom of speech and expression is pretty much all inclusive.

Yet, often those most vocal about freedom of speech are those who go out of their ways to restrict it when it contradicts their beliefs. As Winston Churchill once said, “Everyone is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that’s an outrage.” You see, freedom of speech and expression is a two way street; either everyone has it, or no one has it.

If you will, allow me to discuss another example where the freedom of expression has come under attack by those fighting under the banner of political correctness; and yes, I’m talking about how those who choose to display the Confederate Battle Flag have come under attack for doing so.

I could go to great lengths…I HAVE gone to great lengths to try and explain to you that the Confederate Battle Flag does not represent slavery and oppression; that is was a symbol of the Southern States who sought to exercise their right to separate from the Union and form their own nation. I won’t go into all that again; if you want to read my arguments in support of that position I suggest you go to my blog and do a bit of research on your own for a change.

What I would like to discuss is how the movement to ban the Confederate Battle Flag by a segment of society that is not knowledgeable regarding the truth about that flag is a violation of the freedom of expression.

Let me ask you something. If someone were shown tearing down the Stars and Stripes and defacing it, how would you feel? I’m sure a great many of the people in this country, except possibly Colin Kaepernick, would be upset and offended. Yet a great deal of those who were offended by such an act wouldn’t think twice if someone ripped down and defaced the symbol that many in the South, and in various other parts of the country, represents a people’s right to stand up to tyranny.

Whether or not the Confederate Battle Flag does in fact represent slavery is not important; what’s important is that people, INDIVIDUALS, have the right to freedom of expression; and if displaying the Confederate Battle Flag is how they express themselves, then you have no right to deny them the right to display that flag.

Again, if you personally dislike the Confederate Battle Flag, or the Confederacy for that matter, you are free to express your views, but you are not free to deny anyone the right to express themselves in whatever way they see fit.

Listen, if everyone had the right to ban whatever it is they find offensive then we would all be walking around in bleach white clothing with our mouths sewn shut. I don’t like rap music, kids walking around with their pants halfway down the crack of their ass, and the fact the people don’t know the first damned thing about how this country’s system of government is supposed to function. But I cannot tell people what they can and cannot listen to; how they can wear their pants, or what opinions to hold regarding politics. I can only offer my viewpoint and hope that the facts I present will be sufficient to change how people act.

You can dislike the things I say in these commentaries…hell, you can dislike me for that matter. What you can’t do, is demand that I remain silent just because I hurt your feelings with the truth!So swallow your pride and take it like a man, or woman; or go out and get some facts of your own and let’s have a real honest debate on the issues. But don’t be a pussy and tell me to shut up simply because you come to an argument unprepared to do verbal battle.

That will be all…

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.