It’s because of free speech that I can write this entry (and most everything else on this blog).
I’m here to advocate for free speech of all kinds. I want to see free speech I agree with and free speech that I don’t agree with. I want people to talk, write, compose, protest, draw, sing, wear, sculpt, and otherwise express what they think. I want people to think hard and consider alternate viewpoints and not be satisfied with absolutes. I want the world to be intelligent—and for that to be a reality there must needs be communication.
This ideal is threatened by the increasing regulation and restriction of speech around the world. It is most common in countries with totalitarian governments (imagine that) but it is also creeping up in the United States. Some free speech is being restricted under the accusation that it is offensive.
If I can’t express my opinion because someone else finds it offensive, what’s to stop me from being able to express anything that goes against what they think? Who decides? If everyone decides, will I be able to say anything at all? The “offensive” umbrella term is too large and unwieldy to censor free speech in and of itself.
Beyond that, not being offended isn’t a right, and for good reason. Freedom of speech however is a right (also for good reason).
If the government was tasked with making sure every single citizen was never offended, not only would it fail miserably, it would become absolutely all-powerful and all-controlling in the process. Opposition must exist in the world. There is no way to avoid it. If it weren’t for opposition, there would be no happiness or sadness, no love or hate, no security and no fear. There would be nothing.
On the other hand, if there is no free speech, there is no communication, no learning, no understanding, no change, and a whole lot of nothing else that society needs to grow and thrive.
Trying to mandate that the world be perfect is a losing battle. The best change comes from individuals who make personal sacrifice and influence those immediately around them.
You don’t like it when people disagree with you? You find someone’s comments offensive? Well guess what. Life sucks sometimes.
Suck it up.
There are far worse things to suffer and be a martyr for and advocate in social rights movements than offensive speech.
I have been and am willing to keep being offended for what I believe in. My religion was the victim of rather intense persecution when it was first started and many people today still disrespect it. I myself endured scores of insults, complaints, criticisms, and more (against both my religion and my country) while serving as a missionary for my church in Argentina. While threats and physical harm should be addressed by legal authorities, should people be punished through due process of law for saying what they believe? Even if I don’t like it? Even if it’s insulting?
A significant irony here is that many of the people who will be offended by this post will be at the very least tempted to write flaming comments (likely with expletives) “correcting” my old fashioned views and replacing them with the “new” morality society has invented. Hypocrisy knows no bounds.
I have a legitimate fear that some people will consider not hiring me because of my political and religious beliefs. That concept sounds familiar…oh yeah, it’s called discrimination. Should I then have to conform to the ideologies of whoever pays me? That sounds like corruption. Should I be respected and evaluated for hire independent of my political and religious views? That sounds very fair. We already make a big deal to hire fairly regardless of sex, race, and sexual orientation, but we should be equally mindful to be fair to those who differ from us in their opinions.
If you don’t agree with me, I will still consider you a friend. If you spend every minute of your existence finding holes in my arguments, I need people like you to learn from and to ensure my own security about my beliefs. If what I say is never tested, I’ll likely grow even more arrogant than I already am.
In no way am I condoning that people try to be openly offensive to annoy or anger others. Intense verbal attacks and threats can certainly warrant intervention by appropriate authorities. Intentionally searching for conflict is poor behavior and should be avoided. What I’m against is people needlessly becoming “offended” by others who had no desire to do so but simply stood up for what they believed in.
I call for people to be open minded, considerate, and resilient. I call for people to stand up for themselves without getting offended or angry. I call for people to think and analyze before speaking. I call for people to discuss honestly and frankly the many issues before us today. Only by tolerating the opinions of others and weathering the storm of opposing views can we progress in our quest for truth.