I am free to say what I want in the United States. This right is under attack today. Society is molding your speech from a very early age. Schools, the workplace, the media set the rules for the content of our speech. If you don’t believe this is true, assemble like minded individuals and peacefully protest anything. This gathering will be scrutinized from every angle conceivable; the rhetoric will be filtered through the “acceptable norms” that society is trying to impose on it’s citizens. There are a couple of concerning things rising from the policing of societies speech.
- Who makes the rules for acceptable speech? You might answer the bulk of a countries citizens determine the norms but this might not be entirely true. Less than one percent of a countries citizens make the rules a country adopts into law. There is no guarantee these elected individuals will vote on behalf of the people that elected them to their position. We must be vigilant in vetting canidates before casting our votes.
- We do not want speech that berates a person, race, religion or ethnic origin. This does not mean pandering to someone that is easily offended. We all know people that are sensitive to anything that is spoken. A growing consensus of people believe speech should be letigated, your disagreement is an offense in many cases. Again, who decides what is offensive speech? In this politically correct world be cautious of speech regulation. Free speech disappears quicker than one might think.
- If I don’t agree with you, I will drown out your speech with volume. I witnessed a government official trying to speek to a group of citizens, which was to be followed by a Question and Answer period. Some concerned citizens shouted over him until he was forced to give up on speaking. Were the rights of the citizens shouting more important than the ones trying to listen to the speech? So, in this case free speech meant you have to say the things I want to hear. This type of demonstration is becoming common with groups that are the biggest advocates of free speech. Is their message conflicting? I will let you be the judge.
I hope everyone will take caution when addressing free speech. Freedoms do not die rapidly, they disappear one right at a time. Letting the bar for free speech be set by the loudest person in the room is dangerous to a Democratic Society. Freedom is a hard concept. It requires much work and a great deal of tolerance. When we value speech we oppose, we let freedom of speech breathe and grow. When freedom of speech comes under attack, the logical progression is censoring what is written, followed by censoring peoples actions. We still have some freedoms in our speech, take care not to give them away.