Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Way People Are

Freedom of speech is a sticky wicket.

It seems like it should be a fairly straightforward concept, but that’s only true if those availing themselves of that freedom can always be counted on to use good judgment.

I wholeheartedly support and vehemently defend Freedom Of Speech. I think it is one of the most precious freedoms that we have been afforded under the auspices of our Declaration of Independence. I place it before Freedom of Religion and Freedom to Bear Arms in order of importance. Its not something I take for granted, and I will defend anybody, even Don Imus, who chooses to exercise that freedom.

Unfortunately, there are a few things people seem to forget about freedom of speech.

First, and foremost, that it is a privilege, not a God given right. Any privilege too often abused, is inevitably curtailed or abolished. And I have learned, with unfortunately personal clarity, that any potential in that regard will be exploited if the potential exists.

Because that’s just how people are.

Secondly, that no freedom is absolute. There have to be guidelines. There have to be standards. There has to be a just and reasonable expectation or we risk falling into a moral and social profligacy.

Because that’s just how people are.

Thirdly, that the founding Fathers never intended Freedom Of Speech to be a vehicle for hatred, bigotry and vulgarity. They intended to give the people a voice. They intended to empower us to stand up and say “this is wrong” or “here’s what I think” without risking our lives or our freedom.

Nobody intended for yahoos like Don Imus to go on public radio and make racial and sexist remarks about innocent young women. Nobody intended to pave the way for Howard Stern and his ilk to broadcast the kind of vicious and offensive shlock that he dishes out under the dubious compendium of “entertainment”.

And yet, a precept that was conceived with only the very best of intentions, is being used to sanction just that sort of thing.

Because that’s just how people are.

I think that’s nuts. And I think it’s equally nuts that people are rushing to the defense of such individuals. There is nothing defensible about intolerance.

And here’s where it gets sticky. Because there’s really no way to define and quantify such freedom without endgendering the kind of ham-fisted autocracy that the Founding Fathers sought to eliminate.

So where does that leave us?

Well, that’s where responsibility and accountability come in. We all have to use good judgement in how we choose to exercise our freedoms. And we have to stand up and say “This is WRONG” when someone like Don Imus abuses his freedom. That’s not denying someone their right to speak freely. It’s protecting our own.

So. While in theory, I support Don Imus’ right to say what he said, in practice, I think he’s an unmitigated ass for doing so. And I fully support the action that was taken against him.

Because if we don’t demonstrate that such behavior is unacceptable, then we will all, one day, pay the price. Freedom of Speech will become a distant memory; a thing spoken of in history books and tales told by grandfolks to grandchildren.

Because that’s just the way people are.

14 Comments:

  • At 10:14 AM, Blogger Natalie said…

    Very well said. It is too often that the message of the founding fathers is twisted to suit people's needs and moods. Look at how the right to speak your mind has turned into the right to spout hate. How a well ordered militia has turned into anyone being able to have a gun. Did our founding fathers predict automatic weapons? How freedom of religion has become the freedom to pray in public schools. Who knows how far it could go? For some people the pursuit of happiness may include numerous illegal activities, will they start to claim that it is their right to murder because it makes them smile? Our rights as Americans are given freely but also depend on how well we can use them. The constitution can be ammended, they can be taken away.

     
  • At 10:55 AM, Blogger bubandpie said…

    Freedom of speech is such an ill-understood concept. There are the limits that you've outlined here on what can be said, and there are also plenty of limitations on where things can be said. It's not censorship when I (the instructor) choose not to assign a particular book that you (the student) would like to read. Just as an example.

    This came up recently in an article about civility in the blogosphere. Apparently there are campaigns to harass bloggers on the grounds that they are violating the free speech of their readers by deleting their malicious comments. Freedom of speech has never guaranteed anyone the right to force others to publish their remarks. If they want freedom of speech they can get their own blog.

     
  • At 11:40 AM, Blogger mamatulip said…

    Well said, BA. As usual.

     
  • At 12:54 PM, Blogger Kirdy said…

    Dammit, I hate when you say things better than I do. ;)

     
  • At 12:57 PM, Blogger Mrs. Chicky said…

    I love your take on these types of topics. I loved this post so much that though it hurt my head to read (with the sickness and all), read it I had to do.

    Well said, BA!

     
  • At 3:46 PM, Blogger Kelly said…

    Amen.

    What especially bothered me about Imus was that I thought he was only sorry because he got called on it. That was all.

     
  • At 10:03 PM, Blogger jen said…

    i just wish people used their freedom to do something good instead of break others down.

    it seems simple on the outset.

     
  • At 7:14 AM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    I don't believe Don Imus got fired for what he said. He got fired b/c his advertisers exercised their right to not be associated with someone spewing his type of hate. Once his advertisers jumped ship, he lost too much revenue and was fired. Unfortunately, if what he said had attracted advertisers and audience, I bet he'd still be on the air. Money talks.

     
  • At 8:09 AM, Blogger jchevais said…

    I have always thought that a freedom is a freedom when it doesn't encroach on the freedom of others.

    IMHO, Imus's comments encroached on the women's basketball player's freedom to dignity.

    I really don't understand potty behaviour as entertainment. It makes no sense.

     
  • At 9:51 AM, Anonymous Andrea said…

    Bravo. I support his right to say it but not his judgment in doing so. I too think he's an ass, and treating Freedom of Speech as a security blanket for abusing the freedom it provides is only going to jeopardize the fundamental freedom in the first place. Freedom of Speech is NOT an excuse for poor judgment. Too bad that caveat is often forgotten.

    But that's why we have you to remind us.

     
  • At 10:35 AM, Blogger LizardBreath said…

    Your writings are so true! What reallyt irritates me is that ust because we have the right to speak our minds doesn't mean we have to be racist and stupid while doing it.
    LB

     
  • At 3:00 PM, Blogger Kerry said…

    I agree, Freedom of Speech is a privilege. Say what you want, but you have to accept the responsibilities that go along with it.

     
  • At 7:55 PM, Blogger Rachelle said…

    Well, we are FREE to SPEAK. But, we are not FREE from the consequences of our speech, are we?

    Similarly, God gave us free choice in all things. But he did not give us freedom from the consequences of our choices.

    Fantastic post.

     
  • At 8:40 PM, Blogger Mom101 said…

    Love your take on this (of course). Thoughtful and well-reasoned as always.

    I of course agree with you about freedom of speech, which doesn't extend to federally regulated airwaves.

    But I have to say I am torn on the whole firing issue. He certainly crossed a line when it was innocent young girls he went after as opposed to the public figures and politicos normally in his line of fire. I suppose the rules are just so arbitrary - Rush Limbaugh is on the air every day saying far more hateful things about people. As are Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin...

    But I'm glad it's opened up so many discussion about this and hopefully it will pave the way for a new, less hateful set of airwaves. If he was the sacrificial lamb, well, so be it. Someone had to be.

     

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