Thanks in part to social media, we no longer see people as human beings with feelings but as just some inanimate object. Many also are under the mistaken notion that freedom of speech means they are free to say whatever they want to say and do.
Feeling that way goes against the very grain of freedom. With freedom comes responsibility and when your freedom infringes on someone else’s space, rights and feelings, that is not freedom. It’s being downright rude and obnoxious.
With great freedom comes even greater responsibility. Greater because we have to consider the consequences for our actions, especially when those actions affect others.
In our world where political correctness is more important than right and wrong, we no longer hold people liable for their actions. Kind of reminiscent of the 60’s with its do whatever feels good. We quit calling people out for their bad behavior because they are whining about their freedom of speech being attacked. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It’s not the freedom of speech that is the problem, it is the person’s actions and lack of consequences for those actions. Unless we hold people liable for their actions, they never become responsible for them.
We are free, yes and it’s our right to be that way. However, we still have to act according to established conditions and in ways that are morally pure. We may be free to own property but we still are required to pay taxes and not to harm others. Our being free does not mean we impede others or they have to accept our opinions.
When we hear the word freedom tossed about today it is usually to require that others provide for our actions. Today’s society has twisted the word freedom into rhetoric and to spin things in a certain way to get a point across. When done is this way, freedom simply becomes propaganda. Something those who say they are expressing their freedom, claim to be against.
We don’t appreciate or talk much about being free to walk down the street without oppression, or growing a garden, accept a job of our choice, or attend the church of our choice.
Freedom also demands respect of others. Everyone has rights. We cannot justly claim a boundless freedom when we are infringing upon the freedoms or rights of others as is happening in today’s world.
Freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. Adopted December 15, 1791 it was part of the Bill of Rights to ensure citizens of the new nation would be allowed to speak their minds about political candidates, laws and religion without fear of censorship by the government. This right is also extended to freedom of the press.
But again, as I said, with freedom comes responsibility. They go hand in hand. It is this combination that we should exercise every day. It’s a combination we exercise when we report stories each week.
You see, there is a big difference in the free for alls we are seeing and freedom of speech. Derogatory remarks only accomplish hurt and demean the intended subject.
Those who do not protest peacefully, or who use the protests to demean and hurt others are trampling on the true meaning of free speech. They are certainly not being responsible.
When we talk about freedom of speech, some think it means anything goes and we forget that some types of speech are not protected. Slander and libel, threats, treason, and promoting unlawful acts are areas where free speech does not apply. So when protesters and others threaten national security or are demeaning others, they are crossing the line.
Responsibility is something that many today do not understand. Sometimes that means keeping our mouth shut on issues. It means not responding to those spouting off irresponsible speech. Ignore these people who are acting foolish and eventually they will disappear. They only want the attention it brings them and many do not even understand the cause for which they are trying to claim exercise of free speech. Instead of responsibility, they use excuses which reduces any responsibility.
Excuses do away with reality and with truth. They replace responsibility so that the person using the excuse feels better about what they are doing. Right or wrong is thrown out the window with the excuse of freedom of speech. But you see, freedom does not release us from responsibility for our actions. It’s time we taught that lesson again. It’s time we teach society to be responsible. Then and only then do we have true freedom.©2017
VICTORIA SIMMONS is an author, columnist, motivational speaker, minister and publisher of The Georgia Post/Byron Buzz. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org