Why is it that those who yell the loudest about the right to free speech are also the first ones to forget that it applies to everyone?

   Recently I found myself engaged in a lively debate about just that topic. The person I was talking to was furious that a religious group was condemning the US, homosexuals, blacks and illegals openly. They wanted them stifled because it they found it disgusting. My question to them was…” Are you ready to give up your right to free speech to take away theirs”? Of course the answer was NO and I expect no less.

   Rights are funny things, they either apply to all or none. When you try to get selective about who and what you defeat the purpose. Like everything else in life you have a choice however. If you don’t like the opinion, walk away, or employ your “right” to speak your mind, just be ready for the rebuttal.


Posted on April 1, 2010, in RANDOM THOUGHTS and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Along with every right that a democracy enshrines comes responsibilities. Perhaps those who are so adept at bashing others ought to think twice about what comes out of their mouths and dwells in their heads. Hate speech is used to drum up mob mania and mob mania leads to violence. Those who are addicted to hared are free to spew their guts out in their own private homes. They cannot do that in public venues. There they have to be responsible. Moreover, they are accountable under the law for maliciously defaming anyone. We don’t yell fire! in crowded theaters and we don’t get away with hate speech and libel. That’s they way it ought to be and that’s the way it is.

    • Onecool, I agree that there is responsibilities to every right we have, but whether we accept those responsibilities or not DOES NOT dictate our ability to have a particular right. Yes, I also agree that people in general should think carefully about what they say before they say it, but human nature being what it is, when someone is passionate in a belief or opinion they don’t stop to engage in that crucial process. Free speech is exactly what it says it is and no, it is not confined to the private home. It is a “public” venue even for those who are “addicted to hate speech”. It is what protects the protester from persecution at the hands of the law for stating an “opinion” and that is where most people miss the boat. Two of the hardest things to prove in a court room are Slander and Defamation. Why? Because unless what you are saying about someone hinder their ability to work, opens them to public harassment, or is a blatant lie, the courts generally view such comments made as “opinions”. It is a fine line, true, but there is a huge legal difference between saying ” X is a murder and a thief” and ” I believe X is a murder and a thief”. One is opinion the other is “stated as fact” and without merit (proof) could be considered slander or defamation. The rule of thumb in legal terms is if the person making the statement actually believes it to be true then it is considered “opinion”. Not yelling fire in a crowded theater is a “moral” issue more than it is a legal one as doing so is not illegal.
      As with every aspect of the law, we as humans tend to want to find “gray” areas in the law that allows us to apply our own “opinions” and “beliefs” but thankfully the law is absolute and black and white. With out that we would all be in big trouble.

      Oh and thank you for your comments. I enjoyed them. 🙂

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