What a Pain it is to Deal with Freedom

I had to take a couple of breaks from this Atlantic piece on how awful it is that the First Amendment allows unpleasant people to say unpleasant things in an unpleasant manner.

Yes, freedom does mean that some people will live and speak in a different manner than you – maybe even in a way that is offensive. Speaking out and telling them how offensive they are is often a great tool to get them to quiet down. In fact, such results might even be considered social shaming, which is a form of punishment that exists outside of government. It involves things like individual people making the decision to no longer support the people who offend them and letting them suffer social consequences that can often be extremely unpleasant. However, the Atlantic writer appears to believe that since such punishment doesn’t involve a police gun to the head, handcuffs, and a court room, it’s not actually any punishment at all.

I think what really got me going was the extreme elitism on display in this bit:

No one with a frontal lobe would mistake this drunken anthem for part of an uninhibited and robust debate about race relations. … If the First Amendment has become so bloated, so ham-fisted, that it cannot distinguish between such filth and earnest public debate about race, then it is time we rethink what it means.

It would seem that the argument is that if you can’t speak eloquently and aren’t engaged in thoughtful debate, then your First Amendment rights should be “rethought.”

I have to say that one reason this elitism on speech probably drove me a little more up the wall today is because I just witnessed someone in another forum who, to be blunt, is currently incapable of speaking eloquently or engaging in what the writer would consider “earnest public debate.” While her form of rather odd text speak at all times is nearly impossible for others to follow, that doesn’t mean the government needs to declare that she deserves less in the way of protection for her speech than what I deserve because I am likely capable of being more articulate in expressing the same things.

Freedom means that some people will make different choices that you don’t like. The beauty of freedom is that when those people are in charge, you can make the choices they don’t like and feel confident that you won’t be put away for the “crime” of those statements and actions.

12 thoughts on “What a Pain it is to Deal with Freedom”

  1. I limped my way through the article. The author fails to grasp a simple point – actions, like rape, murder, assault – can be made illegal. Overt threats against individuals can even be made illegal. But speech made in general discourse can’t.

    As you said – the author’s right to picket and protest SAE remains just as firmly entrenched in Constitutional protection as the frat boys’ protections to be utter, racist morons.

    1. “But speech made in general discourse can’t.”

      The author does grasp that point. It’s why he’s got his panties in a bunch.

  2. I’d warn those on the left who advocate for restrictions on the First Amendment because certain communications are unpleasant that they better not be too fond of their porn, many of their books, and a lot of their inflammatory speech because I could find it offensive and unpleasant and demand that it be silenced or censored.

    Sorry, we have to suffer the Neo-Nazis demonstrations, so that we can listen to talk radio and give speeches, and so on, all without the heavy hand of the government trying to tweak it.

    As usual, the Left never sees the unintended consequences of their silly policy proposals.

  3. Thank you, Mrs. Bitter! Sincerely, I could not have said it better than you just did! Amen!!!
    – Arnie

  4. 50 to 60 years ago I told Polish jokes. I’m a little embarrased that I thoughtlessly did that. I have cousins that are Polish and inlaws and nephews that are Polish. To me it was never anything more than a funny joke. I wasn’t even drunk. I honestly doubt these college kids are any different. I doubt they are racist. Sharpton and Holder are racist these kids are just stupid just drunkenly singing something they thought was funny. Racism, like all “ism”s is a mindset and proven by actions not dittys.

  5. I suppose the Atlantic is against due process as well, because one of the major arguments against the expulsion of these students is that it’s also in direct violation with the process the university has in expelling students.

    As for the free speech aspect, it is my understanding that the fraternity closed the college’s chapter, which is their right, because they are a private institution. Indeed, this (the right to association) is one major consequence that isn’t “punishment” by the Atlantic’s definition.

    Additionally, what the Atlantic ignores is: who gets do define what is offensive speech? Who gets to design violent speech? Revolutionary speech often uses violent imagery, and can result in violent, bloody revolution. Indeed, Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty” speech was offensive to those who supported the Crown; arguments for the freedom of slaves wasn’t just offensive to Southern sensibilities, but it even led to things like Bleeding Kansas and John Brown’s attempted slave revolt.

    So, where do we draw the line? It’s going to be different in different eras and geographies; if we drew that line in 1850’s South, slavery very likely would have been that much more difficult to eradicate!

    (I’ll have to admit, though: I’m one of those pesky freedom-loving people who believe that, no matter how despicable the discrimination might be, we have the right to do it, because we have freedom of association. When we discriminate in this manner, however, we cut ourselves off from valuable talent and friendships…but depending on a given person’s mindset and circumstances, this may be a very good tradeoff indeed…or the individual may simply be needlessly hurting himself…)

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