I was a bit of a mouthy kid. If you ask my parents, they’ll probably tell you I was a LOT mouthy. I have a tendency to speak before thinking that still gets me even today as a 45 year old man.
As a kid though, it wouldn’t be uncommon for me to retaliate to any punishment that was given to me by my parents by yelling back, “It’s a free country! I have freedom of speech, ya know!”
Of course, obnoxious as I was, I was absolutely correct. I had the inherent right to say whatever was on my mind. My parents, as my caretakers, and as those God entrusted to instill some discipline in this young brat He’d sent their way, had the right to enact whatever punishment they saw fit for when I exerted that right and overstepped their boundaries.
Within reason, of course. After all, I was never hurt and it goes without saying, I was never killed.
Just how far does our “free speech” right go? Is it absolute? In this ever growing politically correct society, can America claim that we give each and every one of our citizens the right to speak their mind as they see fit?
This topic has been one of global attention lately. The murders of the individuals at the Charlie Hebdo magazine have brought this subject to the forefront in a grim and troubling way. If you aren’t aware of what Charlie Hebdo is – and if that’s the case, what rock have you been under? – they are a satirical magazine in Paris, France. They are apparently well know for poking fun at different people and/or religious organizations.
Just last week, over a dozen people were senselessly gunned down by people who were outraged over their cartoons about Islam and Mohammed. After all, nothing says you are a “Man of Faith” by emptying bullets into the body of another human being because they insulted your Creator.
Before I go to much further, let me take a minute and opine over the cartoons this organization has done in the past. They are offensive and quite frankly disgusting. It will forever be a mystery to me why people must insult the faith of another individual. I will never, ever understand that need to be that way.
I also will never understand the desire to kill those who do it.
I do not practice the Muslim faith. I am a Christian. I can’t fully grasp how much something like this insults someone who practices that faith. But, I’ve heard people call my God, “Sky-Daddy”. I’ve seen crosses put into jars of urine and called “art”. I’ve heard people call Christian’s delusional or suffering from a mental illness.
There is a nutjob who has written a book to this effect entitled, “The God Delusion”. Of course, this same nutjob thinks that you should kill your baby before it’s born, if it’s born with Down Syndrome. This speaks volumes to me about just what type of person he is.
We have a comedian – and I use this term loosely – named Bill Maher – who spends most of his time bad-mouthing all faiths. Again, this is a man who years ago on a national talk-show tried to excuse pedophilia as not as bad as being beat up. (http://reformclub.blogspot.com/2005/05/craig-ferguson-drops-bill-maher-on.html) Again, gives you great insight as to what kind of guy he is.
This Christmas, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the left’s idea of the smartest man on Earth, spent the day mocking those who celebrate Christmas. Nothing makes you sound so smart as saying, “You know what Jews call today? Thursday.” No kidding, sir. You know what most people call Mothers Day? Sunday.
These are rather mild cases of people who insult Christianity on a daily basis. I find these people quite offensive. I don’t buy their books, or watch their shows, but I do hear about them from time to time. My hope is people will wise up to their nastiness and they’ll eventually wither away.
No matter how offensive they get though, I have heard of no one who wishes to kill them. These people have the right to say whatever they want. I have the right to call them jerks and losers – and they are.
If we are to truly have the freedom of speech that we wish to have in this country, we must give these people the right to speak whatever they wish. We must allow those who want to dip crosses in urine the right to do so. We must allow people to mock Islam.
This doesn’t mean that we have to provide them with an audience. Free speech can have consequences. I have the right to call someone a jerk. If that person is my boss, they have a right to fire me. They don’t have the right to kill me.
Freedoms go both ways. If a person claims that a woman can’t be raped, people must have a right to decide he’s a moron and not vote for him. (http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/todd_akin_women_cant_get_pregnant_from_legitimate_rape_20120820) If a woman on a TV show says the rapist Roman Polanski wasn’t really trying to “rape-rape” someone, people have to have the right to say what a moron she is and not watch the idiotic show that pays her wages. (http://jezebel.com/5369395/whoopi-on-roman-polanski-it-wasnt-rape-rape)
No one is allowed to kill either person, no matter how stupid what they said was.
You can scream “Fire” in a crowded theater, despite what people say about that all the time. The consequences of doing so are that you get arrested for doing so, because you’ve put someone in harm’s way.
No one has the right to kill you for doing so.
While your freedom to speak your mind is absolute, it is not without consequence. Other people have rights too.
Now that we’ve established that no one has the right to kill others for what they say, let’s explore what the current Catholic Pope has to say about it shall we? (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/charlie-hebdo-pope-francis-says-those-who-ridicule-others-religions-should-expect-a-punch-9980192.html)
I am amazed that a man that many in the Catholic faith think is one step away from God Himself just said that physical violence is an expectation when you mock one’s faith. Seriously?
Quite frankly, the Pope is wrong. A person may lash out violently for what you say, but he has no right to do so. If you’re God is so sensitive that he’s calling you to harm others for cartoons or slights against him, than he’s no God at all. My God can take the insults. After all, He’s been doing so for thousands of years.
A lot of this blog has been about faith and people’s right to mock someone else’s faith. Many people have stood up in defense of Charlie Hebdo – myself included. Let me ask you some questions though.
- Do you believe the freedom of speech entitles someone to insult another’s race? Gender? Lifestyle?
- Do you believe that creating ‘Hate Speech’ laws are wrong?
- Do you believe in the right of others to own or produce offensive speech, such as pornography? (Keeping in mind, I’m speaking about something where the people involved are able to consent and willingly do so.)
If you said no to any of those questions, you are not a defender of free speech. Period. Freedom of speech must be absolute. Or it is simply NOT free speech.