Today is Independence Day in the United States. The events that Independence Day commemorates are among the most known and least understood of modern times.
Let’s take as an example one of the notions that came about as the result of this day: freedom of speech.
People know all about freedom of speech. They can give you a speech about freedom of speech. They’ll say all kinds of nice things about it, until somebody says something they don’t like. Then it’s “shut up,” and what does that have to do with freedom of speech?
For those people, freedom of speech exists in the head, not in the gut. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean, “the freedom of people to say things I like.” Freedom of speech means “the freedom of people to say things I don’t like.”
I see this fairly often. People tell me to shut up all the time. They fall into four categories.
The first say, “Shut up because you don’t know what you’re talking about,” then explain why I don’t know what I’m talking about. Unfortunately, this is pretty rare.
The second say, essentially, “Shut up because I’m a fanboy.”
The third say, “Shut up because I don’t want to hear it.”
The fourth just say, “Shut up.” Those tend to be very brief. Sometimes, they’re so brief that I don’t even know what I’m supposed to shut up about and have to ask. 🙂
Only those in category one understand what freedom of speech is about (at least sometimes). The rest don’t. They may know about it, but they don’t understand it.
Why do we have freedom of speech?
The reason why we have it is because truth is often tough to get, and the more people involved in the process of figuring it out, the more likely it is to come out. Many heads are better than one.
Truth is not meant to be worshipped. It’s meant to be tested, beat up and pounded. If someone came up to you with this big yellow rock and said, “This is gold, would you like to buy it?” only a fool would take his word for it. You have it tested first. So it is with truth, and if you can’t talk, you can’t test.
Freedom of speech is like thought detergent. It’s supposed to wash out the wrong and leave the right.
Sometimes it’s messy, and sometimes truth hurts, like when you’re wrong. Lately, the politically correct crowd have tried to fabricate a new right, the right not to be hurt. Wrong. At best, they confuse courtesy with constitutionality. At worst, they don’t want anyone laundering their mental clothes because they’re afraid of what will come out in the wash.
Freedom of speech and other freedoms like that aren’t little totems put away in the attic most of the year and taken out on holidays to be praised. No, they are tools of the souls, and they are meant for daily use. Rough everyday use.
It’s not a law; it’s a lifestyle.
So next time, don’t call somebody an idiot and tell them to shut up. Prove it. Then you won’t even have to tell them to shut up.
Think about it.