Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Freedom of Speech is a Good Thang, Opinions are Relative

I am still smiling over yesterday's exchange. There is no point in rehashing everything that was said, if you are interested you can find the discussion at my blog entry
Those Wacky Liberals and Democrats and Their Free Speech Bias and Brandon's blog entry at a badchristian blog, a liberal patriot? in both the entries and the comment sections. Dan Lewis at a badchristian blog summed it up about as well as anyone when he had this to say:

Dan Lewis said,
March 7, 2006 at 2:03 pm

(Brandon had said)

"Brandon’s a hypocrite because…

1. On the one hand he wants free speech.

2. On the other hand, he doesn’t want to let conservatives have free speech.

3. He displays this by berating a person’s argument who told him to move the fuck to China.

4. He should just let people say whatever they like, because that’s what freedom of speech is about."

(Dan Lewis added)

"It’s not too hard to imagine steps 5 through 8 of the future course of this argument:

5. On the one hand, Brandon wants to use his free speech to define free speech.

6. On the other hand, he wants to prevent others from using their free speech to define free speech.

7. But then, he wants to use his free speech to explain that defining free speech does not prevent others from using their free speech to define free speech.

8. On the other hand, he wants to prevent others from using their free speech to argue that defining free speech does in fact prevent them from using their free speech to define free speech.

I am starting to buckle under the g-force of this argument."

To summarize, any idiot or sage, depending on one's own perspective can say any stupid or brilliant thing they want to say, what one does not have the right to expect is to not be challenged on anything they say.

For an example: Cindy Sheehan has the right to say terrorists are "freedom fighters," and Bill O'Reilly has the right to challenge that statement. By challenging the Sheehan statement he has not tried to remove her right to free speech, he has merely exercised his own. As a matter of fact, by responding to her statement directly, he has shown her a certain amount of respect, though probably not intentionally, and one could argue that he only extended that respect because the media was disproportionately giving her air time at the expense of other family members who have lost loved ones in the War on Terror.

The good new is that no one has lost their right to speak freely, the good news is also that no one has lost their right to challenge another when they exercise that freedom.

Suggesting that by challenging another you have taken away their right to free speech is a straw man's argument, and when someone challenges their right to challenge, one engages in the very same behavior as the first challenger, in short, whether that argument is put forth by Cindy Sheehanites, Neal Boortz, Brandon at a badchristian blog or Jacke at JackeHammer, that argument exposes them all as the hypocrites they are...and we've already established that we're all hypocrites, right?

That brings us to the issue of respecting others, and that's a whole 'nother subject.

If a neighbor complains to his friend that he doesn't like the neighborhood in which he lives, perhaps the next door neighbors play loud music and host loud parties and keep him up at night. Maybe his neighbor on the other side has a big dog which barks all night long, at any rate, he has some righteous grievances. Would it be wrong for the friend, hearing of his friend's displeasure with his living arrangements to suggest that he might be happier living in a different neighborhood? Would that be a reasonable suggestion? What if the neighbor took that to mean that his friend was trying to tell him "either move or SHUT UP about your neighborhood!" ? Would the friend's suggestion be unreasonable just because the original friend chose to take offense?

I tend to think the friend has a valid bit of advice in suggesting that his friend move if he is unhappy in that neighborhood. Could he have instead suggested that his friend try to discuss the problems with his neighbors? Sure, and that would have been a valid bit of advice too. Both bits of advice would be reasonable, wouldn't they? What if the friend, the one living in the bad neighborhood called all of his other friends on the phone and told them that his advising friend had told him to either get the heck out of that neighborhood or shut the heck up about it! Well, that would be somewhat disrespectful, in my opinion, because it really isn't at all what the friend had suggested, he had merely offered some reasonable advice.

What if, in the blogosphere, someone accused another of telling them to get the heck out of America if he didn't like it here, rather than responding to the advice as what it was, a suggestion that if one was so unhappy and discontented in America they should consider moving to another country? What if he wrote a blog and implied the originator of the remark might be a hypocrite and an aspiring totalitarian!? Funny, huh?

Perspective is a funny thang.

Freedom of speech is a good thang.

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