Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Let's Define Freedom of Speech, Shall We

I'm tired of hearing people invoke the 1st Amendment inappropriately. Whenever people say something offensive and people get upset, they bring this up to apparently excuse their behavior. It's a basic misinterpretation of one of the oldest laws in the country.

Dr. Laura Schlessinger's only the latest person to bring this up as a reason. She said she's dealing with the backlash of her rant by quitting because her rights are violated. (And right on cue, Sarah Palin** defends her on Twitter --- apparently saying Nigger several times and being arrogant isn't worse than Rahm Emanuel calling someone a retard)

Instead of tackling what was wrong with Dr. Laura's rant, I'm gonna tackle the bigger problem. The 1st Amendment does guarantee you the right to say whatever BUT it does NOT protect you from the backlash of what you say.

In layman's terms - You can say whatever you want but just be prepared to deal with the consequences. We can't restrict what you do but we can definitely respond to it. Why? Because that's our right too according to that same amendment.

The law would technically allow you to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater. It'd also allow you to call me out of my name and insult my family. But it won't protect you from the reaction or being at fault.

In layman's terms - It won't protect you from personal accountability. Don't hide behind the Constitution when you say something. A real adult stands behind their words/actions and doesn't use the law as an excuse.

It's so easy yet so many people forget that part of it. They just want the right to say what they want without fear but don't want to accept the responsibility of it. Hide behind the Constitution without realizing it's not gonna save you

Rush Limbaugh/Sean Hannity/Dr. Laura have the right to speak their mind as much as Keith Olbermann/Rachel Maddow. The Constitution protects that but it doesn't mean you can abuse it for hate speech or stirring up unhealthy rebellion without trouble.

Who knew I'd make a good interpreter of the law. Maybe I should've gone into law school after all. But I'll settle for being a history buff who wants to know the original intent of things and can read for myself.

** (For the record, Sarah [since you aren't a private citizen, you lost your title] Dr. Laura's 1st Amend. rights weren't violated or threatened. She quit BEFORE she was ousted for what she said. Her rights didnt "cease to exist", she chose to forfeit the right to use them in that format. Ignorance is your new best friend after John McCain said "Kick Rocks")


  1. Ahh, you took the blog right out of my brain. Thank you for that.

    Dr. Laura absolutely has the right to say whatever the hell she pleases without being arrested, with exceptions. there is a fine line between free speech and hate speech. Laua is on the "barely legal" side of it and Fred Phelps is on the other side of the line.

    That said, as much as "Dr" Laura can spew her various offendive insults and language abuses (she's also called people faggots, dykes, and a litany of other things I am not going to type) we also have the freedom to call her an ignorant cow.

    The thing about Laura is that she wants the freedom to say what she wishes, but continually works to trample the rights of others.

    I wonder how it feels, Laura.

  2. Well said Evan! Thanks for posting this!

  3. There's the rub. Most people see free speech as a 1-way street but they don't realize the consequences of what they say. Take George Carlin or Lenny Bruce for example - they used comedy to twist and bend the 1st Amendment like putty but they used it to educate their audiences while making them laugh.

    Freedom is always a 2-way road. Somewhere along the line, we forget the other side of things.

  4. Well said.
    Great point on Palin's disdain for "Retard" and defense for "Nigger."

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