The Great Free Speech Conspiracy

It seems like any time there is a controversy, those that belong to the far fringe of the political party that is not currently holding the keys to the White House always feels that their free speech is being intentionally taken away by some great conspiracy. When Bush was in the White House I remember some of my liberal friends pointing out every way Bush was destroying free speech, and now that Obama is in power we see the right pointing out every way they think they are losing the right to free speech.

But I sometimes wonder if we as a society are losing sight of the limitations of free speech.

Freedom of Speech does not mean that you can say whatever you want to whenever you want to however you want to where ever you want to and not face any consequences.

Libel and slander are still illegal. Saying “I think…” in front of your character assassination does not exempt you from defaming individuals or groups. Those laws have been in place as long as any of us have been alive – so it is still technically illegal to say certain things and always has been.

If you try to stand on your lawn at 3:00 am and loudly proclaim your views, you can still end up arrested for disturbing the peace. I have witnessed that happen – because I once called the police on some loud neighbors when I wanted to sleep. If you ring someone’s door bell and become a nuisance they can have you removed from their property. So it is also illegal to say things at certain places and has been since before any of use were born.

If you choose to be mean and judgmental and tell others they are unreasonable or lying or destroying society or hating God just because they don’t agree with your side, then those people can ask you to go away or stop posting on their Facebook wall or whatever it may be. They are not denying your right to free speech. They are exercising their right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” There is no law that forces them to listen to you if you are being mean. How you present your point matters.

Private companies have the right to terminate whoever they want to whenever they want to. Individuals can delete you off their Facebook wall if they want to. If either of those two or anything in between happens, you have only lost one avenue out of millions in today’s society for expressing yourself. No law in existence guarantees you the right to express yourself on every single avenue possible. Freedom of speech applies to the government cutting you off. Not individual companies or people on social networks.

And finally, there is no law the forces everyone in the whole world to put our hands over our mouths and say “your point is brilliant” every time you state something. People can disagree with your point. If you decide to swoop into a Facebook discussion with your fists swinging, don’t get all bent out of shape if they put up their dukes and swing back. If you came in accusing someone of being deceived or unreasonable, they are not trying to silence you by saying that you are being hateful and inappropriate. They are technically doing the exact same thing you are. They are not “silencing” you, you are facing consequences for poorly chosen words. If you choose to use insulting words, people are going to get emotional. Humans are emotional creatures and there is technically something wrong with a person that feels nothing when pointed words are exchanged. These are all consequences of using certain words, and if we can’t take responsibility for the effect of the words we choose, we should just shut up until we mature enough to learn to accept consequences.

All of this is to point out that what you say, when you say it, how you say it, where you say it, and the consequences of what you say all matters.

metamodern-faith-avatarWe live in a society where there have been laws and standards governing free speech for as long as we have been a society. Someone that is asking you to adhere to those laws and societal norms is not destroying your right to free speech or propagating a conspiracy to silence you. They are doing this thing called civilization. The real conspiracy that is destroying free speech is the one that is tricking people into believing that they can say whatever they want whenever they want however they want where ever they want and not face consequences.

Why Republicans Make No Sense

gop_elephantSo let me get this straight. We live in a country were almost any loony tune can go out and legally get a gun. They can even amass a small arsenal and start a massacre. Guns are so prevalent that we constantly read in the news about kids accidentally shooting each other. We even hear about spouses shooting each other at restaurants when a handgun in one of their pockets goes off.

Our current gun laws and/or enforcement of these laws are obviously not working, but yet our Republican leaders fight tooth and nail to keep this situation the status quo with such astute logic as “criminals won’t follow new gun laws.”

Duh. Why do you think we can them criminals? By that reasoning, we should have no laws at all.

So what do our Republican leaders spend so much time and energy fighting? The “evil” of people having different religious beliefs that leads them to creating an updated legal definition of marriage.

Of course, the possibility that some of these people might want to redefine God or how to worship God or even not worship God at all is no big deal. They are free to worship God or gods or a supreme force or nothing at all because that is their freedom in this country – and (almost) every Republicans will stand by that. But dare touch the definition of marriage? Thems fightin’ words!

So redefine God and that is okay, but not marriage. Let’s just be honest: “Definition of Marriage” has become a false idol in this land that many so-called Christians are bowing down to.

Because if you actually think that a gay couple living next to you will be so damaging to your marriage or society that your relationship to God will not be able to “overcome” those effects…. that means God is not the most powerful force in your personal paradigm.

So as the GOP lines up to fight the recent Supreme Court rulings and vows to make new constitutional amendments to define marriage, I call hypocrisy and point out that the GOP makes no sense. You are just bitter that you lost the culture war (which was really a term you made up) and instead of accepting the premise that we don’t force people in this country to follow a certain set of religious beliefs (which is what your definition of marriage is), you vow to fight on like a grumpy old man swearing he’s gonna get those young whipper snappers the next time they step on his lawn.

(And Democrats, don’t get me started on how your party is ruining this country)

metamodern-faith-avatarAnd I point out that I say “your” definition of marriage not because I don’t believe the Bible, but because I do believe it 100% and I choose to follow what it teaches. And I can not in all honesty say that it only has one definition of marriage, or that it has a clear statement of morality on the modern-day practice of homosexuality in general. I respect the Bible too much to tell lies about what it contains.

Why Rand Paul is Not My Hero

So I posted a few times on Facebook yesterday my problems with Rand Paul fighting against Obama’s Drone Assassination Program (or whatever it is called – which I am against for the record) while voting for things much worse in the past. I was immediately inundated with questions along the line of “what on Earth can be worse than killing American citizens on American soil without an American trial?”

Well, honestly, I can think of a lot of things a lot worse. Like a small girl being abducted from her parents and forced into slavery for her whole life. Teenagers that get bullied to the point of committing suicide. Elderly people that are found dead in their houses because they were abandoned and neglected. And so on. You get the picture. To me, systemic instances of sustained abuse and neglect or a much “worse” problem (if we had to rate them – they are all pretty bad in reality and rating the “worst” seems a bit superfluous).

We will all have differing opinions oh how to rate how “bad” something is. But if your first thought is to start bringing up American rights and American citizenship as the “worst possible thing a politician can vote against”, I have to seriously wonder about your priorities. Especially if you are a Christian and claim your first allegiance is to God and His purposes on the Earth, not man’s institutions.

But anyway, back to Rand Paul. He spent something like 13 hours in a filibuster to stop illegal assassinations of U.S. citizens. I agree that we should not assassinate American citizens. Or citizens of any other country for that matter. But even if Obama assassinated everyone he wanted to, it would affect something like 0.00001% of the American population.

So Rand Paul will spend 13 hours to fight for the rights of a small amount of Americans, but then vote against the Violence Against Women Act, which extends help to hundreds of thousands of victims of crime (if not more). And we are talking about real victims, not possible assassination attempts that may or may not happen in reality. That, to me, is despicable  “But, but, but, there was this attachment or his belief in…” Whatever. B.S. He voted for a whole slew of other Bills that had attachments to them that he has stated he opposes, just because he agreed with the core bill.

Then he votes against the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, designed to give aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy. Because the last thing people need when their house is destroyed is help. They need to have Obama’s Drone Program shut down. Obviously.

So if you want to call someone a hero who won’t extend legal help to victims of violent crimes or natural disasters just because he took a stand against political assassinations  you are free to do that. If you claim to follow the Bible though, you are reading it wrong.

Sometimes it really disturbs me who people that claim to follow Christ lift up as examples for others, the issues they fight over, and the stances they take on those issues. Sometimes it seems like we care more about logically defending the second amendment than living out the second greatest commandment. You don’t think so? What would people deduce from your Facebook posts? What would a victim of rape think about you calling someone life Rand a hero, when he voted against the very bill that helped her in tremendous ways?

Not to mention that Rand voted against tax breaks for the middle class and small businesses. I can’t read his mind to know why, but since many of those bills also called for increased taxes on the rich and large businesses…. you have to wonder. In fact, if you really think about it…. who would be on this Obama Assassination List anyways? You have to wonder if some like Rand is worried that Obama might put outspoken political opponents on that list. So are the people standing against this List really looking out for the average man or woman on the street…. or their own necks? If they are voting against bills that obviously do help every day citizens, while spending a long time in a filibuster against an idea that doesn’t really help that many people… you just have to wonder.

metamodern-faith-avatarI agree with stopping the president from violating the constitution. But to call someone a Hero for doing that? Really? No, the real heroes are the ones out there fighting against slavery and poverty and injustice here and around the world. Organizations like Freedom Firm that are actually going in and rescuing underage girls from forced prostitution (some of which might end up in the United States at some point). Or bands like Aradhna that work to raise funds for Freedom Firm. In America there are organizations like the Traffic Jam Campaign that does similar work. And a thousand more groups like these.

Those people are the real heroes.