As I get older, have finished school, am continuing to learning new things and meet new people I find myself looking at those I respected and admired over the years in a new light. I was never by any means “dumb” but I sure did not see things the way I do now – I have grown up and in a way part from them all. I sit her now reading things my “friends” post about their views or even just comments they make about things in life and with each word my respect for them falters a little bit more.
As an advocate of free speech, as much as I wish their nonsensical statements would stop, I am glad that they don’t because it is a constant reminder of who they really are; it is a statement that they are plastering across themselves for all the world to see (much like this and every other post). Free speech allows us to write “I AM A GAINT IDIOT” across our foreheads for the rest of the world to see… or at the very least lets you say what you want to say and have others interpret as they might. (I do completely understand that what I may think screams “I AM A GIANT IDIOT” may scream “AMAZING” to someone else.)
But there comes a point, where I wonder if by biting my tongue, not voicing my opinion if I am really doing any greater good?
I remember doing a study in college on free speech, we looked at a politician who had made racist comments and argued whether they should have been allowed or not. Arguing for full and complete freedom of speech I say “Yes.” My reasoning? Well, if you pull his statement and do not let it go public like he intended, the public will not be able to decide for themselves if he is a racist pig. That by holding his comments you would actually be doing him a favor and painting him in a light more favorable to the American people, if you let his ignorance shine through then people would be better informed to make an educated decision.
That is my feeling behind these post I see from my “friends.”
However, along with being able to say whatever you want allowing others to form their own opinion of you, I also feel that it is important for conversation, debate and further communication; which is where I find myself at a struggle with my “friends.” I have always felt that your opinion is one you should defend, debate and at times even adjust as you learn more, but if when we hear something we don’t like or agree with we just sit quietly in a corner how is another view ever going to be heard?
I return to the politician example. If his comments were to come out and someone formed an opinion about him from them and publically stated he was a racist and not to vote for him – that not only opens up the floor for debate and discussion with the politician but it allows others to chime in as well. Once the conversation is started more educated decisions can be made, better judgments can be made and in this case the right politician might get elected.
I suppose as a reflection on myself I can take more of a stand, not just make jokes that poke fun at the topic posted that I feel screams “I AM A GIANT IDIOT.” Ironically I never had, I think a lot of it has to do with the perspective others have of me, or at least they vocalize they have in me. As the youngest of the majority of my friends I am still seen as the “child” and in all honesty a lot of my actions around them reflect that vision. In my defense however, these people rarely actually spend time with me nor have they spent much time with me in the last year plus. Their vision of me is from when I did still behave like a child at times, and apparently since they have not noticed that I have grown up.
Free speech allows us to say what we want to say and for others formulate their own opinions around it, just because I do not agree with what you have to say does not mean I should tell you to shut up. No, I should then step up and state my opinion — communicate.