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DominicX's avatar

Why do so many people think "freedom of speech" means "freedom from criticism/backlash/offense/consequences"?

Asked by DominicX (28319 points ) December 22nd, 2013

Question pretty much speaks for itself. I have met many who don’t seem to understand the text of the First Amendment and just how far it actually goes.

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17 Answers

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Why do so many people believe that “freedom of speech” means “the right to threaten, endanger, harm, and defame”?

DominicX's avatar

@SadieMartinPaul Good question. It certainly seems a lot of people think that way. And yet when it happens to them, they suddenly become extremely hypocritical. What a surprise.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I wish I knew. Like this whole Duck Dynasty thing. His supporters are trying to say it’s a free speech issue and it’s not. A&E did not violate his right to free speech. He can say whatever he wants, and the network has a right to sever their contract with him if he says something they don’t like. If I go into work tomorrow and scream “fuck everyone in here!” and I get fired, people would think it was pretty stupid if I said they were violating my constitutional right to free speech.

jerv's avatar

@livelaughlove21 You misread their position. Anybody who agrees with them has the right to do anything they want while those that disagree with them have no rights at all.

Remember, these are the same people who say that employers do have the right to fire gay/non-Christian/non-white employees, discriminate against customers based on those same orientation/religion/color issue, can deny birth control coverage to their employees, and have all sorts of other powers….

ucme's avatar

A classic case of because you can doesn’t mean that you should, some boneheads find that difficult to comprehend…who knew?

ibstubro's avatar

Because most people invoking “Freedom of Speech” feel they are speaking against an injustice and therefor are eligible for special dispensation.

The Civil Rights movement, in particular, confused the issue in the minds of many modern Americans. Armed enforcement of the right to gather and quelling of riots was seen as tamping down the rights of some in order to allow the opinions of another group to be heard.

Of course, that’s absurd. The part that is frequently missed is “Freedom of Civil Speech”. As Long as you remain civil, you have the right to say anything you like, and receive equally civil disagreement. The content of your speech receives no protection – ignorance and evil are rebutted, refuted and and rewarded/punished as society at large deems fit.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@jerv And they say the same about their opponents.

bolwerk's avatar

In the case of the Duck Dynasty fanbois, it is a form of entitlement. Self-identified “conservatives” believe they are supposed to be at the top of the pecking order. Their whole conception of freedom is connected to the idea that they are worthy of their privileges, which includes at least the illusion of having authority over others. That’s why letting straights marry and not gays is compatible with their conception of “freedom.” It’s why police can brutalize minorities without right-wingers batting an eye lash. It’s why measures to prevent climate change are seen as fascist – they create the illusion of keeping right-wingers from doing what they want (keeping the planet from going to shit is not a freedom everyone else has).

It’s the same phenomenon here with free speech. A rich white man isn’t supposed to be held accountable for saying something stupid. A swarthy librul ape like Martin Bashir is worthy of being fired for a similarly repugnant comment though.

ETpro's avatar

The Duck Dynasty flap is just part of a major new industry in America and perhaps throughout the world, the Phony Outrage Industry. Following the lead of Evangelical Christian televangelists, folks like Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage grew fabulously rich whipping up outrage over nonexistent slights and phony claims of unfair treatment.

It’s just as big in industry an Muslim lands. And in India, there appears to be a growing movement exploiting the religious and cultural divides of that land for profit.

In the US, the very same people who are so outraged at A&E for firing Phil Robertson are fighting tooth and nail to ensure corporations retain to fire workers for their sexual orientation; unless, of course; that orientation happens to be straight like they are. The messages they respond to don’t have to make any sense, because they aren’t packaged for an audience having critical thinking skills. That’s not to say they are stupid. Phil Robertson has a BA in Phys. Ed. and a MA in education. But bright or not, these are not people who think things through in a calm rational way.

Rational thought offends them. They think with their gut, and reject all out-group trappings. So to them, anything that interferes with their message of bigotry is a violation of their freedom of speech, but it’s perfectly OK to stifle speech of those from any out-group. They seem to think the 1st Amendment means publishers can be required to publish speech they like, but the Government exists to force publishers not to publish speech they dislike.

DWW25921's avatar

Freedom of speech means it’s ok to speak up about liberal issues without being assaulted.

Being a bigot means you are of a different school of thought and don’t ascribe to liberalism.

augustlan's avatar

I wish I knew. My aunt has posted numerous things on Facebook about “supporting Phil” with the Duck Dynasty thing and believing in free speech. I pointed out to her that he’s not in jail for saying what he said – so his first amendment rights haven’t been violated – and that I’d get fired if I said something stupid in public, too. She acknowledges that I’m correct, but then keeps right on posting about it. It’s bewildering.

ETpro's avatar

@DWW25921 That is utter nonsense. Listen to Rush. Listen to Michael Savage. Listen to Fox. Right wingers like them have spent the last 40 years demonizing the very work, liberal.

Being a bigot has a dictionary definition and the authors of the dictionary had no political axe to grind. According to The Merriam Webster Dictionary bigot means
bigĀ·ot   noun
: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

jerv's avatar

@DWW25921 Both sides are capable of crossing the line. It’s when double standards and hypocrisy come in that many people get uppity. Now, I’m not saying that the Left is innocent, but the Right is fucking blatant as hell about being inconsistent well past the point of self-contradiction.

Do you know why comedians seem Liberal? Because the Conservatives give them sooooooooooooooo much material to work with. I mean, when you lob it slow and over the plate, someone is going to take a swing. The material writes itself! Hell, it’s now at the point where it’s legitimately difficult to tell stuff from The Onion from actual stuff that Conservatives say/do! It’s hard not to target those who paint a fluorescent bullseye on themselves.

As for bigotry, I suppose it is bigoted to treat people equally without regard for gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, economic status, etcetera. Anything that fails to deify white, pro-life, rich, homophobic, xenophobic, pro-corporate, Christian male Americans and place them FAR above all others is bigoted.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I think @DWW25921 might be referring liberalism, not Liberalism. As in, the original political philosophy, not the opposite of Conservativism. Just a guess, though.

ETA: After reading the response again, I think I’m wrong. Don’t mind me.

DWW25921's avatar

@livelaughlove21 You are correct. There does seem to be a difference within the same word…

bolwerk's avatar

If liberalism has an opposite, it’s socialism, not conservatism.

mowens's avatar

Everyone has a right to say whatever they want, so long as it doesn’t cause panic. (No yelling FIRE!)
Everyone has a right to fire someone. Over whatever reason they want, so long as they can prove it wasn’t based on sex, sexual orientation, race, or creed. AT-WILL employment.

Everyone needs to remember freedom of speech and expression is a 2 way street.

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