|Source:Imgur- Author Salman Rushdie, making the case for free speech.|
"Author Salman Rushdie, who lived for years under a death threat after his 1988 book The Satanic Verses drew the wrath of Iranian religious leaders, said the right to free speech is absolute or else it isn't free.
Following a speech at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Rushdie on Wednesday addressed the killings last week of 12 people at the Paris satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. He said he was angered that, in the aftermath of the shootings, some from both the left and the right began to vilify the victims."
|Source:Mashable- Author Salman Rushdie.|
"Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or a community to articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship, or legal sanction. The term "freedom of expression" is sometimes used synonymously but includes any act of seeking, receiving, and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used."
Saying that someone has the right to be an asshole, is not the same thing as saying that you agree with assholes. We all say stupid, ignorant, bigoted things from time to time which is one of the prices and yet rewards for being humans: the right to learn and grow. And of course assholes are more ignorant and unfeeling than regular people, otherwise they wouldn't be assholes.
Saying that people have the right to speak freely is exactly that. From the most enlightened, to the most ignorant. It doesn't mean we can wildly accuse people of rape and other felonies, or shout fire in movie theaters, or falsely advertise ourselves, our services, and products, or incite violence.
It means that we have a right to our own views and the have right to express ourselves and make our thoughts known. Even if they're critical of certain people or groups, including the government, politicians, and other public officials. And it also means that every American has the exact same free speech rights as every other American, with no exception to race, ethnicity, gender, religion, color, sexuality, or birthplace.
And with our liberal, constitutional right to free speech comes a liberal amount of responsibility to what we say and what we believe. It means that every American has a constitutional right to express how they feel about what every other American says and believes. That also means that assholes not only have the same free speech rights as the enlightened, but they have the same responsibilities as everyone else. And people who hate their ignorance can call bullshit on them and tell them exactly how ignorant they are.
Liberal democracy as great as it is, is never easy and it will always be hard and complicated and yet always rewarding. And we can only reach our full-potential and be as great as we can be as a liberal democracy and federal republic as long as everyone is not only taking advantage of their individual freedom, including their freedom of speech, but defending every other America's individual freedom, including their free speech. Especially the people that they not only disagree with, but hate what that person or those people have to say. Otherwise we'll never be anything other than clones of whatever the populist or in-crowd is at the time, or the government telling us what we have to believe and what we can say.