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Why Do Americans Hate Free Speech?

Updated on July 31, 2016
A  passing Irish immigrant once said this lady has a lovely arse, but is the concept she truly stands for valued in America?
A passing Irish immigrant once said this lady has a lovely arse, but is the concept she truly stands for valued in America? | Source

Yearning to Breathe Free?

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...the land of the free and the home of the brave...Give me liberty or give me death...liberty and justice for all...sweet land of liberty, for thee I sing...I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free.

Some of our most famous American poems, songs, and speeches contain the words freedom, liberty, or a variation thereof. From the time we gave King George his eviction notice and dedicated ourselves to the concepts of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness," Americans have been holding ourselves up as a model of freedom for the rest of the world. We love freedom so much so we feel the necessity to export it to others that we think don't have it, often at the point of a gun.

Freedom is a sacred word. We recite it like a prayer every fourth of July. We put our hands over our hearts and swear it every morning in class. But do we really mean it? Do we even understand what freedom, particularly freedom of speech means, and if we do, do we really approve?

I'll state my conclusion in advance, then prove me thesis as I go along. Americans know damn well what freedom means, and we damn well don't like it, for various reasons.

This is what you get when you practice freedom of speech in America.
This is what you get when you practice freedom of speech in America. | Source

KMA Freedom of Speech!

I found out the brutal reality about freedom of speech during this election cycle, when I dared to exercise mine by supporting a candidate who goes against the grain of business-as-usual American politics. I won't say who that candidate was because it shouldn't matter. The US Constitution, in its revolutionary attempt to "..secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..." guarantees in its 1st Amendment that "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech..." So outside of libel and slander, all opinions are good, regardless.

It is widely believed that Americans have an embroidered copy of this sacred First Amendment hanging on our living room walls. Therefore, we should regard the opinions of our fellow man as something sacred, even if we do not agree.

What happened to me when I voiced my sacred opinion? I was shouted down as a "reactionary." I was called a "Nazi" (No, my candidate was not Trump, if that's what you're guessing). I was called a "dumbass (twice)."

Then, in the ultimate social-media era outrage against freedom of speech, I was blocked, deleted, and invited to "Kiss my Ass.". Bear in mind I didn't call this person any names, or disrespect her right to voice her opinion. I simply expressed my own.

The conclusion I draw is that, despite the religious reverence we express about the topic when queried, Americans don't really like freedom of speech. We are, in fact, downright hostile toward any speech that does not agree with our own. This, of course, is not freedom of speech at all, but censorship, a form of tyranny. Even though we divorced King George for being a tyrant, we still prefer honest to goodness tyranny.

As I sat there licking my political wounds in befuddled disillusionment, I tried to figure out why Americans hate freedom of speech so much. I came up with three reasons.

Socrates, one of the Father's of philosophy.  Most Americans do not know who Socrates was, or why they should care.
Socrates, one of the Father's of philosophy. Most Americans do not know who Socrates was, or why they should care. | Source

1). We're not Thinkers

The American Public School System is a mess. A 2012 assessment ranks our students 17 out of 34 among OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, even though we rank fifth in spending per student.

This news is not particularly surprising. I have always recognized America as a nation of practical people, not towering intellects. Truth is, we import most of our brains. Any homegrown eggheads are chastised and bullied on the playground as nerds. This lack of appreciation for pure thinking is why the Arts are de-funded in cash strapped schools, and other Humanities are roundly laughed out of the building by school board members. History is boring, Philosophy is a waste of time. Any wonder, then, that Americans are not adept at free thinking, and do not appreciate its value?

The result of this neglect of reason for reason's sake is that we gladly allow others to do our thinking, and by extension speaking, for us, usually in slick sound bites that do not tax our limited attention spans. This is why Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, and even Al Franken with his clever pro-Hilary jokes on the DNC podium are hugely popular. A man's got to believe something, after all, but coming up with these beliefs independently takes too much damn time, and time is money.

The stern vigilance of our intolerant Puritan ancestors still looms heavily over our American souls.
The stern vigilance of our intolerant Puritan ancestors still looms heavily over our American souls. | Source

2). We're Puritans

Contrary to popular belief, the United States was not always a land dedicated to the concept of freedom of speech. Many of our earliest settlers were downright close-minded tyrants. Freedom of Speech was a crime that could get you a spell in the Pillory (rhymes with Hilary) on the public square.

Many Americans are the direct descendants of Puritans, a sometimes fanatically religious people who, Wikipedia says, believed that God "...was the center of public and personal affairs..." Among Puritans, thinking outside of the accepted Church standards could result in punishment of various forms, such as: Public shaming by being led by a rope through town, flogging on a whipping post, being forced to wear a sign like Hawthorne's famous Scarlet "A" (for Adultery) on the clothing, branding of the flesh, immersion in water on a "Ducking Stool" (Puritan water boarding), the Pillory, the Stocks, or in extreme cases being forced to swallow pins or being hanged for the alleged practice of witchcraft.

Even though we might not all be Puritans in the pure Calvinist sense, most Americans are the descendants of religious refugees, and most of our ancestor's religions were intolerant to some degree. This overwhelming sense of a fear of God and his lingering, loitering divine punishment still looms heavily over us and influences our thinking, even if we don't go to church. Grandma's stern warnings about the omnipresent eyes of God being constantly upon us to ensure we follow his rigid, inflexible commandments involuntarily influences American attitudes toward freedom of thought, and whether this thought should be allowed to travel down to that infernal devil's conduit, the mouth.

The shaman and the mascot both serve the same role, to bring the tribe together.
The shaman and the mascot both serve the same role, to bring the tribe together. | Source

3). We're Tribal

Not all of our aversion to freedom of speech is a particularly American condition, some of it is a general human condition. Homo sapiens descend from tribes, which the Oxford dictionary defines as "...families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect..." Native Americans remember their tribes and still practice tribal customs to a certain extent, the same with members of the aboriginal groupings of Australia and Africa, and even nomadic Middle Eastern people.

Most people in our so-called "developed" nations, however, were part of tribes so long ago that we forgot what they were called and what secret rituals they practiced. Nonetheless, we still have tribalism in our blood. The deer antler wearing tribal shaman has simply been replaced by the deer antler wearing sports mascot. All the same, the mascot still serves the same ritualistic functions as the shaman, bringing religious unity to the tribe through shared prayers, dances and chants.

In spite of the advent of industrialism, nationalism, capitalism, and all the other "isms" we think separate us from our primitive ancestors, human beings still insist on grouping themselves into tribes. Politically, you might belong to the Conservative tribe, the Liberal Tribe, or the sub-tribe of the Liberal Tribe, the Progressive Tribe. Religiously you might be in the Catholic Tribe, the Protestant Tribe, the Muslim Tribe or the Mormon tribe. On a less institutionalized, but equally religious level you could be part of the Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Cavaliers, or Boston Red Sox tribes. Unlike our primitive forebears, who were born into their tribal affiliations, in modern times it is possible to choose membership in different tribes at the same time and to change tribes at personal whim.

Tribes of similar types are mutually exclusive. You can't be in the Red Sox and Yankees tribe simultaneously. You can't be a Liberal and a Conservative in the same breath. You probably can't wear the Pope and Joel Osteen's picture on the same T-shirt either.

Tribes tend to demonize the other tribes. In more primitive times, members of the neighboring tribes were cursed with hexes and voodoo and sometimes attacked. Even today, we heap verbal damnation against members of the rival tribes. The New England Patriot tribe are a bunch of deflate-gate cheaters. Hilary Clinton, the queen of the Democrat tribe, is a criminal. Those darned Trumpster tribesmen are racists. Mel Carriere, he of the accursed unnamed third party tribe is a reactionary, a Nazi, and not to mention, a dumbass twice-over.

I graciously extended an olive branch, but my olive branch was pruned.
I graciously extended an olive branch, but my olive branch was pruned. | Source

Sound off freely on Free Speech!

Do you think Americans really appreciate and respect Free Speech?

See results

Ad Hominem, Ad Nauseam

Last night on Facebook I decided to do my little part to bring people back together, to get us listening to each others' ideas instead of shutting each other out based on what amounts to, among like minded people, theological hair splitting.

I wrote a post asking why there has to be so much bad blood among those who, prior to this divisive 2016 election, were friends and allies. I pleaded for a ceasefire in the profusion of blocking and deleting. I suggested it would be more productive if we talk, don't block. I even made up a nifty hashtag for it: #talkdontblock. I was in a very magnanimous mood.

I got a few responses back, most of which missed the point. Most assumed I was pointing the finger at those evil Trumpsters, which I wasn't. A Facebook friend, alias Jack, an Internet Troll who hunkers beneath a bridge in Florida, chimed in. Jack hides his troll colors quite well behind an impressive vocabulary. He told me that people who resort to ad hominem attacks should be blocked. I gently reminded Jack that he is the reigning champion of the ad hominem attack. He is the same one who called me a reactionary and a Nazi, after all. Jack apologized for such, then resumed throwing subtle verbal barbs that were essentially ad hominem attacks again. I still have not blocked and deleted Jack, and I won't.

My olive branch seems to have been pruned. Free speech loving Americans are still having a ball insulting, shouting down, and blocking and deleting each other all across Facebook and every other platform. We revel in such behavior.

I'm not accusing all Americans of being free speech haters. There are some very enlightened compatriots of mine out there, people who listen thoughtfully to conflicting opinions and sometimes even admit when they are wrong. Most of these have gone into hiding, sad to say, having given up trying to defuse the block and delete bombs.

Meanwhile, the playing field is left wide open for ad hominem trolls like Jack to run amuck, to trample the concept of free speech wherever it rears its ugly head.

Business as usual in America, I'm afraid.


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    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 8 months ago from San Diego California

      Thanks for your rant Sanxuary. I am not discussing here whether Trump is better than Obama, Republican vs. Democrat, etc. Everybody should be able to have their opinion, whether right or wrong. But if my opinion is slightly different than the other guys, why should I get shouted down for it on Facebook? To me, that is hate speech.

    • profile image

      Sanxuary 8 months ago

      I do not have to hate anyone to disagree with them. I just have to make them think. You can not even disagree if the things they say are not even true. Some of these lies are so bad it takes 10 seconds to know they are not true. I would say almost all right wing radio is unfactual. I am not oppossed to it but it seldom offers any real reasons to believe it. People still do and tell me all about it. Do you still believe Obama is a muslim? That he is building a mausque at ground zero. That he was born in Kenya? Now that Trump is President why would it matter now? Oh yea he wire tapped Trump tower right. Its unbelievable. Just think the patriot act that allowed the NSA to collect data on anyone has made it completely legal to collect all the data they have on Trump and the Russians. They need no warrants and they can watch anyone dumb enough to call another country. Permission to violate anyones privacy has been granted by the people who will soon be prosecuted fore it. I love it when free speech becomes evidence. Like half of Americas face book pages in the future we can pull up your kids doing drugs and posting their lewd photos at their next job interview. Free speech can be costly when you become to free with it. Next subject is plagerismn and false news, just kidding.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 9 months ago from San Diego California

      Sanxyary, hating anyone who disagrees with you is hating free speech. Free speech implies taking the bad with the good, the BS and the truth, and letting it stand on its own merits, subject to anyone coming along and deconstructing it. Outright slander, of course, should not be tolerated, but anything that survives the sniff test has to be tolerated, whether we agree with it or not. So much of what we think is truth is completely subjective, colored by our own ideologies. Thanks for reading.

    • profile image

      Sanxuary 9 months ago

      I think Americans love free speech. What they hate is anyone who disagrees with them. Speech is so free now that you can tell lies all day long. 30 seconds of thinking destroys most of the things they tell. I think people love free speech more then anything today. Its thinking that they are relly having a problem with.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 9 months ago from San Diego California

      Well said, Bradmaster. I wonder myself how they made Bernie give up, or did he just feel he was in over his head? The most shameful thing was how they ousted all of his rowdy delegates from the convention hall. Whether one likes Trump or not, at least the GOP let America speak in nominating him. Thanks for reading.

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 9 months ago from Orange County California

      Mel, I agree with you. The DNC and HRC started to make sure that Bernie Sanders wouldn't make it through the primary. The SuperDelegates were already committed to HRC even before the primary started. Without these bought SD Bernie would have looked good from the beginning. Even with them he was catching up to her as the months got close to the primary. I don't know why Bernie gave up after he found out from the emails what they have done to him. We should have investigated how they got him to drop out. Protesters and Riots have no connection to freedom of assembly or speech. These were not peaceful and they were calculated to win the election. Yet, the Obama AG and the FBI found no criminal activity. Really. The protesters since the election should be deemed Domestic Terrorists on the verge of sedition and treason. Donald Trump is president and he had to fight his own party.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 9 months ago from San Diego California

      I think it all boils down to free speech. A vote is a way to express your voice. When they suppress your vote they are shutting you up and discouraging you from becoming active in the process because it all seems futile. Both parties play dirty games, they just approach it differently.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 10 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      No question some people, including the chair, did just that; but that doesn't suppress speech per se. Instead, if falls in the category of political dirty tricks, which isn't the same thing, I wouldn't think.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 10 months ago from San Diego California

      I don't think I agree with that, Esoteric. The DNC made a concerted, deliberate effort to suppress Bernie last summer. Here in California millions of students had the vote taken out of their hands. Although I am no fan of the Republicans or Donald Trump, at least the GOP let America pick the candidate, who they did not like, lest we forget.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 10 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I'm not thinking what a group of individuals did, but the greater principle of 1st Amendment rights. From that view, the extreme end of each spectrum in America (regardless of which Party is controlled by them) has a history of trying to legally suppress free-speech. Having said that, it has been conservatives who do most of the suppression.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 10 months ago from San Diego California

      Esoteric, this article was actually inspired by getting shouted down by Hilary supporters in online forums because I supported Bernie. There are freedom-suppressing brownshirts in all movements, and it scares the hell out of me.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 10 months ago from San Diego California

      Dumb speech, smart speech, it is all free speech. Once we start picking and using who can say what, Sanxuary, we might as well learn to speak Russian. Thanks for reading.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 10 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I would offer that adding "... Far Right and Far Left..." to your title.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 10 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Is that code for Donald Trump and much of the GOP?

    • profile image

      Sanxuary 10 months ago

      People do not hate free speech, they hate people who disagree with them. What I hate is dumb speech based on no truth.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 12 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Apparently not enough. What a terrible day for America and the world.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 12 months ago from San Diego California

      Well, the Trump brown shirts probably do own more guns, but there is a lot of pent up deluded frustration on the Clinton side to even the scales.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 12 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      But I do think the Trump Brown Shirts are more likely to resort to violence than the irrational Clinton supporters. (Irrational because they do not think beyond the fact that she is a Democrat; they, like their Trump counterparts do not want to engage their brains, just their mouths.)

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 12 months ago from San Diego California

      I cringe to think of what Trump's more fanatical supporters attempt if their idol loses, Rachael. On the other hand, the Clinton crowd is infected by equal blind fanaticism. Unfortunately, the best man in this race was not nominated, in my opinion. Thanks again.

    • RachaelLefler profile image

      Rachael Lefler 12 months ago from Illinois

      Yeah, political discourse has gotten pretty low. Most arguments these days can be settled by a quick search of Snopes, but facts don't seem to matter when someone's beliefs are so entrenched. And we're the most divided country we've been since the Civil War.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 12 months ago from San Diego California

      Thank you My Esoteric. It's nice when somebody agrees with me.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 12 months ago from San Diego California

      Rachael we can be censors simply by shouting people down with dogma and rhetoric. I was just talking with a coworker today about Trump accusing the government of rigging the election against him. I wasn't even delivering an opinion, just relaying something I heard in the news. He immediately shouted Benghazi at me. Where did that come from? That's what we're up against. Thanks for reading.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 12 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Sounds right.

    • RachaelLefler profile image

      Rachael Lefler 12 months ago from Illinois

      I think people think "I'm not the government so I can't be a censor" yet it's very easy with today's technology for individuals and non-government entities like corporations to become censors. And since they have the legal right to do so, they abuse it wantonly.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 15 months ago from San Diego California

      You are right, Deb. Outside of you and me, there are not a lot of free thinkers out there, and people don't know how to react to opinions outside their box. Thanks for reading!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 15 months ago from Stillwater, OK

      Free speech equates to free thinking and for those of us raised in that manner, it was always be in the forefront of our minds.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 15 months ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Linda, that has been driving me crazy. I was reading that while sick in bed once but could never finish. I plan to try it again someday. Thanks for reading!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 15 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is definitely a very interesting article to read, as Blossom says. The comments are interesting, too! The book that you were thinking of is One Hundred Years of Solitude. I read it in a Latin American literature course at university and haven't looked at it since. I still have the book, so I'm going to read it again.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 15 months ago from San Diego California

      Yes Blossom, I suppose we are all the same mad little monkeys no matter where on the planet we live. I suppose the very concept of a democracy was designed to save us from our own natures. Thank you very much for dropping in to read.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 15 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      I've come to here a bit late, but it was a very interesting article to read, so thank you for sharing your thoughts. I think a lot of it is the same right around the world in countries that are democracies.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 15 months ago from San Diego California

      Yes, Devika, this one seems to have struck a chord, or struck a nerve. No, Mel is not my real name but it has become my identity to a certain extent now. Thanks for reading!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 15 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Wow! An Awesome hub! You have an overwhelming response here. A very interesting insight to your title.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 15 months ago from San Diego California

      I think you make a good point Mona. Which brings up another point that the blocking and deleting may be a show to demonstrate to their fellow travelers that they are squashing dissent.

      Thank you for your visit. I always enjoy your contributions.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 15 months ago from San Diego California

      A perpetual cycle of arrogance and ignorance, Tom. People are afraid to have their sacred cows slaughtered, that's why I try not to keep a herd of sacred cows. It's very difficult. Thanks for the great comment.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 15 months ago from San Diego California

      Patrick I think it exists. The fact I can complain about it here proves it exists. I'm just saying a lot of people don't like it. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 15 months ago from San Diego California

      Larry, narcissism is very insecure and does not tolerate dissent. You make a very good point about us being hypocrites. I somewhat alluded to this when I said we export democracy at the point of a gun. Thanks again.

      What was the name of that darn Marquez book? Something something solitude. Help me out, it's driving me nuts.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 15 months ago from San Diego California

      Incomegeru, some of those who are the loudest to call you a hater or a Nazi when you disagree with them are the loudest crybabies when they think their free speech is being suppressed. Thanks for reading.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 15 months ago from Philippines

      I have a friend who has four FB identities. So if she blocks a person, she can still keep in touch through the other identities. Maybe some of them do that.

    • Tom Groves profile image

      Tom Groves 16 months ago from United Kingdom

      Very interesting hub. It reminds me of the filter bubble effect: by blocking someone with an opposing view, one is explicitly restricting access to wider culture and alternative ideologies, likely leading to a perpetual cycle of arrogance.

    • Patrick Patrick profile image

      Patrick 16 months ago from Nairobi

      There is nothing like free speech. It is non- existent

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 16 months ago from Oklahoma

      But that's what I mean, lol. Some folks on here think it's heresy to have a disagreement. I really liked your narcissism conformity statement, btw.

      One thing I'd add is that hating free speech is not a purely USA trait, but we got to be the biggest hypocrites of them all, brandishing our "freedom" ideal while we see fit to choke any real freedom out of everything.

    • incomeguru profile image

      Oyewole Folarin 16 months ago from Lagos

      You have done a great job in putting these constructive arguments together. Despite the right to freedom of expression, some people still circumvent these rules for their selfish interest. Thanks for doing justice to this fundamental issue.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 16 months ago from San Diego California

      I would like to believe that most Americans are so enlightened, Mr. Esoteric, but most want to be told what to think because their brains are too busy with important things, like Pokémon Go.

      Fortunately, hub pages is a refuge for the enlightened, and I am pleased to make your aquaintance. You seem to be a wise, open minded person. I appreciate your kind comments, and look forward to sampling your work.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 16 months ago from San Diego California

      Kathleen, Mel Carriere is not my god given name, but my nom de plume. Comes as a shock to some. I do have a regular Facebook too, with my real name, but I don't breathe a wotd about politics on it. A refreshing refuge where I can laugh at cat videos like normal people. Thanks for reading and the interesting comment.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 16 months ago from San Diego California

      We are awake, I respectfully beg to disagree. Most people only want free speech when it agrees with their opinions. Americans love a good book burning. Thanks for reading!

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 16 months ago from San Diego California

      Shawn, I think you missed my point. Maybe I didn't express myself well. I know what free speech means. I appreciate the American Govt 101 recap, but it is not necessary. Fact is, I don't give a rodent's flea infested arse if people agree with me.

      What frightens me is this witch hunt mentality where people want to shout you down and snuff you out with party sanctioned mantras. I liken it to the 15 minute hate in Orwell's 1984. Many of these sheep-minded individuals would support the government shutting me and other people up. That is what bothers me.

      Thanks for reading. Come back anytime.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
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      Mel Carriere 16 months ago from San Diego California

      Eldon, sir, sometimes the devil is right, and though I have no sympathy for him a la Mick Jagger, if he makes a good point I have to say so.

      The biggest philosophical Eureka moment I have ever had came about a year and a half ago, when I realized I don't have to subscribe to any dogma or categorize myself as anything. I can agree with part of one thing and part of another, and change my mind where good sense dictates.

      You are a wise young man. Thanks for checking in.

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 16 months ago from San Diego California

      Larry, Eric Dieeker expressed a beautiful point in his weekly sermon this morning that it is impossible to get along with people who are exactly like us. The differences are what makes things interesting, and make two people complement one another. I don't know if I'm using the right spelling of that word, but I know you get my meaning. On the other hand, I believe extreme narcissism demands complete conformity.

      I don't remember any major beefs you and I have had. We quibble over particulars, like my son and I do. Thanks for dropping in!

    • Mel Carriere profile image
      Author

      Mel Carriere 16 months ago from San Diego California

      Bill, I'm dead tired of this election. I wish I could bury my head in the sand and wait until it roars by, but when I see third world level voter fraud being perpetrated by the so called defenders of the working class I can't help but open my big mouth. Thanks for reading, buddy.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 16 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      While I have issues with over-generalization, your hub is one of the very best I have read. Your arguments are extremely well constructed, your examples are particularly current and apropos. As soon as I figure out how to do it, I'll nominate the for Hub of the Day or more.

      Let me also say that in terms of the issues presented, I can't agree more. BUT, I do not think the problems you describe are held by the majority of Americans. I think they only apply to the extremes, which may represent only about 20% of Americans. The problem is, of course, those 20% suck all of the air out of any conversation and leave nothing for the rest of us; that makes them look like they are the 90%. Why is it so noticeable? Because these people are extraverts, their passionate and they gravitate toward participation.

      If you study Meyers-Briggs or Right Wing Authoritarianism, you will find only certain personality types are suited to this type of what I think of as anti-social behavior. I am an INFP in Meyers-Briggs terms and that puts me as a polar opposite of those who scream you down at a rally or on Facebook. I am also a low-scoring RWA which basically means I don't follow authoritarian figures and that I do think for myself; high-scoring RWA followers DO NOT think for themselves when it comes to the beliefs of the authority figures they have chosen to follow; they let these people speak for them and then they defend their hero beyond all reason and even when it is contrary to what they know to be true.

      That is who you are dealing with and who are so frustrating you; resulting in a very pessimistic view regarding speech. (BTW - the 1st and 14th Amendments, as Shawn said, protecting you from either the federal or state governments from limiting your speech; they say nothing about citizens respecting each other's right to speak their mind.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 16 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I try to keep my political opinions off my FaceBook page, because I know those people personally. I see them at church, friendly gatherings, and family events. I live in Georgia where I am absolutely in the minority, so I stay quiet and get along with folks. Up until about a week ago, I felt safe speaking my mind here on HubPages where I have the protection of semi-anonymity. But I've sworn off here also because I'm tired of giving verifiable information in response to the lack thereof, only to see the same misinformation again and again on the non-stop flow of new hubs. It's not like this info is not in the news, newspapers, and other readily available media. People just don't like the answers to their accusations, so they ignore it. Free speech is all fine and good, but our justice system is not based on popular opinion. It's based on proven evidence. You not liking that evidence doesn't change them.

    • profile image

      Shaun G 16 months ago from Morpeth

      I believe they do want free speech but the ruling elite are tightening heir control. Especially now the truth seeking community and critical thinking community are growing at a profound rate because of the internet.

      Don't be too surprised if they start a massive clamp down on critical posts online soon.

    • Shawn McIntyre profile image

      Shawn McIntyre 16 months ago from Orlando, FL.

      What you're talking about has nothing to do with free speech. The First Amendment protects you from the Government, not the opinions of society. Whether people agree with you or not, no one is preventing you from expressing your views. Freedom of speech goes hand in hand with freedom of association, so you can freely and openly support any candidate you like, but your right to speak doesn't mean that anyone has to listen.

    • Eldon Arsenaux profile image

      Eldon Arsenaux 16 months ago from Cooley, Texas

      Poignant. Intermediaries, those persons simultaneously The Devil and God's advocates are in short supply. I agreed with Larry ^. Argument is healthy; ad hominems should nauseate an intellectual.

      Your first point was the most convincing, because many of us (myself included) lack the rhetorical scope to argue anything outside of prescribed doctrines or ways of argumentation. We uphold that one must be either for or against, emotionally if not rationally-- and that liminal spaces, border thought places, do not exist.

      As you say, we allow representatives to speak for us, though they don't act for us. Most of our freedoms are freedoms from (italicized :))

      We Americans do tend towards dogmatism and tribalism. As Groucho said, "I don't dare care to belong to any club that has me as a member." The Marx Brothers party!

      Ah, Mel, a refreshing hub!

      -E.G.A.

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      Larry Rankin 16 months ago from Oklahoma

      People like the idea of free speech until they realize everyone doesn't think exactly like they do.

      Just the way people leave a person's following on this site as soon as you express a contradictory pov.

      One of the things I appreciate so much about you, Mel, is I know we can argue and I don't have to worry about you jumping ship because you get it.

      No two people will agree on everything and argument is healthy.

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      Bill Holland 16 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I couldn't agree more, buddy. I've watched as you've struggled on Facebook, and been attacked, and everything you said about the U.S. is true. I do think social media gives freedom to the haters behind a mask of anonymity, but I also think these are tough times, and many people are hating simply because they are afraid and frustrated, and their meaner sides are exposed. When will it stop? I have no clue, but I'm dead tired of it.

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      Mel Carriere 16 months ago from San Diego California

      Could it be we are all petty tyrants at heart, Mills, and somebody finally realized that - hence the need for Constitutions? People love expressing their opinions freely, and they love it when the other guy's opinion gets snuffed. I think you nailed it. Thanks for the kudos on the 100 hubs, and the great comment.

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      Pat Mills 16 months ago from East Chicago, Indiana

      I think you pointed out the three main reasons free speech is not respected. Political correctness and shouting down people are forms of tyranny. People are free to express their opinions, even when they want all dissenters to stay silent. It's an ironic part of freedom of speech that many don't get. Too few people in the media call out Donald Trump on his views. They just give him air time and let him say what's on his mind - and offend the Khan family and so many others. With politicians too often walking in lockstep with their parties, none of us should wonder why the rest of the country follows suit in some way.

      By the way, congratulations on 100 hubs. I look forward to the next 100.

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      Mel Carriere 16 months ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Jodah. The Internet has brought a lot of wonderful things. The fact that you and I are communicating across the globe is a wonderful thing. On the other hand, the Internet has made people forget their manners. Too easy to take a cheap shot then duck. I appreciate you dropping in my friend.

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      John Hansen 16 months ago from Queensland Australia

      I enjoyed reading your very interesting viewpoint, Mel. As an outsider I am not really qualified to comment on whether Americans hate free speech, but you present a good case that many do. I agree with Mike's comment that the Internet could be one of the causes. Cheers.

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      Mel Carriere 16 months ago from San Diego California

      That's an excellent point, Mike. The anonymity of the Internet makes everybody a little mouthier than usual. Also, some of those seemingly dedicated Internet warriors surfing for posts to troll aren't as passionate as they seem, but get paid to do it. Hilary has a huge Cadre of trolls on the payroll.

      Thanks friend, and happy Sunday!

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      Old Poolman 16 months ago

      Mel - you ask a very interesting question, one I had never given much thought until I read this hub.

      Much of this trend of stifling free speech is due to the internet and social media. Things we might have said in casual conversation with a friend or neighbor now go out for the entire world to read. Based solely on the much larger audience who now "hear" our comments we could expect much more retaliation for our beliefs.

      There are some out there who just search for comments or articles they don't agree with just so they can pounce on the author and beat him or her in a contest of words.

      Most of them are very brave when shielded by the anonymity provided by the internet and thousands of miles of real estate. I often wonder if they would act the same in a face to face meeting. I rather doubt it but could be wrong.