Freedom of Speech

Wednesday, 21 January 2009 at 3:00 am Pacific USA Time.

With everything that's going on online nowadays, I have been thinking about "Freedom of Speech." People invoke this all the time, especially when they have something negative to say. Well, this thing you keep saying… I don't think it means what you think it means. :)

Freedom of speech and the press is meant to be about the right to say something that could be hot or controversial without fear of being dragged from your bed at night by secret police, and never being seen again. It was the idea of a freedom some countries didn't have. So here in America, you can say you don't like something the President is doing, and you get to continue living. :) In other countries, you may find your home or village burned to the ground.

Freedom of speech and the press stops at another person's right to not be libelled, threatened, or harassed. For example, if I post on the internet that a CEO of a major company is a serial killer, no secret police will steal me from my bed at night and beat me up. Well, probably not. That's the freedom to say what you want!

However, I could hear from that guy's lawyer since I used my speech to accuse him of a crime he hasn't been arrested for or convicted of. I could be ruining this guy's business or life because I wanted to say that about him. That speech is unlikely to be protected by claiming "Freedom of Speech."

Sometimes, I like to compare things to Judge Judy shows. While that may not be the pinnacle of legal interpretations, it usually has some good real-world examples. And one you'll see over and over on that show goes like this. Two women used to be friends until something came between them. She took her man, she lent her money, she let her live there but didn't get rent money, you name it.

The woman who feels wronged will sometimes decide that the best way to deal with this is to call the local government agency, and report the other woman for some sort of child abuse or neglect, even when she knows the other woman is not abusing or neglecting her children. The reported woman then has to deal with all sorts of hell she didn't deserve because the first woman was comfy making that false accusation. That false accusation is probably not going to be protected by Freedom of Speech.

We're lucky to have Freedom of Speech! But it has to be tempered with common sense, good judgment, and truth. Remember that Freedom of Speech is the right to say something without being kidnapped by secret police and held in an unknown prison for 20 years. :) It doesn't mean you can say anything, anywhere on any topic!

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Categories: Just An Observation

Comments Closed

One Response to “Freedom of Speech”

  1. dogimo says:

    I agree!
    I’d quibble that you can say anything anywhere on any topic – but you are obliged to accept the consequences. If you slander you may be charged. If you act abominably on private property (real or e-) you may be ejected from the park with no refund. Private individuals disagreeing with you or criticizing your opinion is not “censorship” or “oppression.”
    Your Freedom of Speech comes with a high price tag: other people’s Freedom of Speech.