Day 248 Question 248:
What are your thoughts on freedom of speech? Does it really exist?
Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by many state constitutions and state and federal laws. The freedom is not absolute; the Supreme Court of the United States has recognized several categories of speech that are excluded from the freedom of speech, and it has recognized that governments may enact reasonable time, place, or manner restrictions on speech.
I found this explanation of freedom of speech online and after reading it I chuckled to myself. We call this “freedom of speech” a right of all people but the government can put restrictions on certain expressions or speech. Is it just me or does this seem contradictory? Why use the word freedom when there are restrictions….when someone else is choosing what we can say or how we can express ourselves. It is sad to see the way our world is evolving and how little we are able to say and express before we are criticized or called immoral or politically incorrect.
I know I have conquered this topic before but I decided to revisit it because I recently purchased the book No Easy Day by Mark Owen. I have seen several news stories about how this man has crossed the lines of privacy and has leaked confidential information. Many people have given me flack for even purchasing the book because of this because they believe I am funding someone that has done an injustice. First and foremost, I bought the book out of curiosity and secondly I believe wholeheartedly that he should be free to express himself. He states right in the very beginning that this book is not one to give away secrets and he has changed names to protect people. He says, “Although I am writing this book in an effort to accurately describe real-world events as they occurred, it is important to me that no classified information is released. With the assistance of my publisher, I hired a former Special Operations attorney to review the manuscript to ensure that it was free form mention of forbidden topics and that it cannot be used by sophisticated enemies as a source of sensitive information to compromise or harm the United States.” This man did not take part in 13 consecutive deployments risking his life day in and day out to turn around and say Fuck You to the United States. He is practicing his freedom of speech and sadly everyone has criticized him for this because they believe he has deceived everyone. My question is, why do we call it freedom of speech when there are limitations? I have read books about women being thrown into the most brutal prisons of Iran and those books are published without the blink of an eye. At this point in life, the content is not going to matter because the United States already has enemies and there will always be fuel to add to the fire. Many people say that there are just some things that the people do not need to know (i.e. everything that goes on in the government). Why is that? To protect us? To make us naïve? This is our country…we should have to face the bad just as much as the good and I am getting really tired of everyone else making my decisions for me. Our government has become so disgustingly large and controlling and I don’t know if we could ever turn that around. As citizens of this country we are constantly walking on eggshells making sure we don’t say the wrong thing or offend someone.
I know I am just one of those hippie kids born way after my time. I believe in peace and love and see violence to serve no purpose. I am what many would call a dreamer and completely unrealistic. Maybe I am to some but I love the way I think because it is not ugly…it is not deceptive and it is not untrue. For a long time I had wanted to work in the education field. I bounced back and forth between being an elementary teacher or a guidance counselor. I have no desire anymore to work in a setting in which the government controls my every move. I do not want to work somewhere that I have to constantly watch what I say or do because some parent is going to get offended. I don’t want to work somewhere that I cannot put my hand on a child’s shoulder to show affection and tell them I am proud of them because it is going to be misconstrued as a sexual advancement. I don’t want to work somewhere that will side with the parent that is blaming me for their child’s behavior problems. There is too much red tape and we have become a nation so focused on being “politically correct” that people do not even know what to say anymore. A few years back I was working for a nonprofit that focused on the importance of early childhood education. I had a group parent meeting at one of the local childcare centers. The center that I was visiting was made of up predominately black children. At one point I was discussing different parenting methods and behind me the children were climbing on furniture and having a good time. I said something to effect of, “look at the little monkeys”. I thought nothing of it but was scolded afterwards and told that what I said was an inappropriate racial slur. My comment did not come from a place of racism whatsoever. Monkeys like the climb on things and that was all that I was referring to. I was absolutely floored that I was in trouble for making an “inappropriate racial slur” when my intentions had absolutely nothing to do with race. From that day on I started watching my environments and watched how people communicated to see how much they were holding back in order not to say or do the wrong thing. We have become robots that are meant to follow certain guidelines. I found it so ridiculous that I could no longer use the word monkey (a jungle animal) around black people because there was a chance that I could offend someone. At that point I wanted to turn my two middle fingers up in the air and tell people how it is more offense to take someone’s freedom of speech away because of that kind of ignorance. I am not a hateful or spiteful person and I would never throw racial slurs out EVER…for any reason. I don’t control the slang that has been evolutionized so I do not believe I should be punished for saying something (with no ill intentions) that could potentially offend some Sensitive Sally or Stanley. I don’t mean to be so ugly but it makes me so mad to think about how ridiculous censorship and being “politically correct” has become. There is a big difference between being respectful and being “politically correct” and I find the first to be of greater importance.