Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Reminder: "I disagree" and "I hope you die" Are Not The Same Thing

Ya'll...we need to have a talk. Because somehow "freedom of speech" in the age of social media has led to an entirely new definition of the term. Somehow, now, if you disagree with me then you can hide behind your computer and say the most awful things imaginable and congratulate yourself on your use of the First Amendment.

Let's be clear...
"I disagree with your opinion"
"I hope you die"
are not the same thing.

And whether you like it or not...
This is not what the Framers meant 
when they wrote:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The Framers wrote the Declaration shouting to the King and the world that they would no longer be ruled by an oppressive government. They wrote the Bill of Rights as a way to protect citizens from being oppressed. Somehow, in today's culture, we have moved from the ideology of a "freedom from" to an ideology of "freedom to". Our freedom of speech was never meant to give us the right to say anything without consequences but to guarantee us the right to question and even criticize our government without fear of imprisonment or worse. 

Furthermore, thanks to the cultural shift from "freedom from" to "freedom to" we find ourselves in a place where the freedom to do something and the right to do something are not the same thing. Does this Twitter Troll have the freedom to call me names? Absolutely. Does he have the right? No, no he doesn't. We see the same thing over and over in our society today. "Freedom of Speech" being used to demean people, culture, etc. Media objectifying women. Attacking people when they disagree with us...or disagree with a leader we support. We have the freedom to do so but we do not have the right. We never have the right to strip someone of their humanity, their dignity, their imago dei. No matter what freedoms we think we have to do so...we simply do not have the right. 

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