Words and Swords, Free Speech and Accountability
They do say the word is mightier than the sword, don't they?
However, nobody ever seems to think that a word can, and actually does kill, just as a sword, or a bullet, as the case may be.
Let's not dwell on the obvious
So, this fellow that shot a number of people in Tucson, Arizona, is a nut job.
I'm not even going to defend this statement, because it's as obvious as all get out. I mean, anybody that will hold a gun and discharge it to countless citizens participating in any gathering, political, social, educational, whatever, is a nut job in my book. So this is beside the point completely.
My question is, are we all going to accept that these things are the doings of wackos and be done with it?
I should hope not, and I should hope any citizens in a nation plagued with these nut jobs should be screaming bloody murder as opposed to be arguing whether this is the work of a nut job or if there's any ulterior motive. Please!
I sometimes have a feeling that "free speech" is taken a bit too far, and that the excuse of being able to say just about anything because it's a free country allows some monstrous dialogue to seep in public forums, creating a violent atmosphere that only generates more hate and violence.
This is worth a read: The end of an era of intolerance, or just the beginning
I tend to end up sucking it up, because "limiting" what one can say presents even a worse alternative, a "gag state", where nobody, friends nor foes, can say what they think. Kind of from the frying pan into the fire. Besides, generally, when free speech is limited the ones that suffer it are the ones who never abused it to begin with, if you know what I mean.
With my heart, I would ban certain types of speech, especially in public forums, I would start banning any sort of apology of violence, I would ban the slightest justification that some people deserve harm done to them.
But with my mind I know that bans to free speech may end up being worse that the original problem to begin with. It's really not possible to limit what one says, because we'd soon be limiting much of what everybody said.
However, there has got to be a balance between free speech and personal responsibility, or accountability. Hate speech cannot be forever protected under the cloak of "free speech".
Responsibility and Accountability
So, by and large, limiting free speech isn't the answer, or the complete answer, but there has got to be a middle ground between what one can say and how much this person can be held accountable for the words spoken while in the exercise of free speech.
This is called responsibility and accountability, and it very much reminds me of the Judgment at Nuremberg. Many of those Nazis defended themselves as saying they "simply followed orders"... But there is a choice in the following of orders. Just as many people followed these orders, a great number of others were interned or simply executed for opposing them.
In any event, those who spoke the orders, voiced the hate and violence, are the ones who are held accountable by history. Is there a lesson here?
Free Speech and Accountability
At any rate, and back to the free speech issue: Words spoken are actions, too.
One may not pull a gun trigger, but if one permanently infuriates the audience with incendiary speech, with maps filled with pistol targets, and then someone actually pulls a trigger, it is NOT acceptable to say "this doesn't have anything to do with me"!
At the very, VERY, least, it's got a lot to do with what you're saying! Someone with either more guts or with no brain, or likely both, just did what you're preaching about, nonstop. So how does that NOT relate to your free speech nonsense?
If the past is any indication of the present, I'm fairly sure in your defense you'll use and abuse the very used and abused justifications that:
- Words are one thing but actions are another, and you didn't do anything but speak your mind, and this is a free speech country
- Because it's a free speech country, no one can't righty stop me from speaking my mind, and it doesn't mean I'm responsible for all the wack jobs that listen to me and decide to take matters into their own hands.
I beg to absolutely disagree with both justifications, and besides, if there was a way to sue you, or throw you in jail for them, I would.
Justifications that Fall on My Very Deaf Ears
Número 1. Words spoken are actions, too.
Regardless of the subtelties of language, police have taken into custody, more times than can be counted, suspects of killing someone simply on the basis that they bragged about it with friends over beers. Police detained these suspects because they had good grounds that these words spoken had some relationship with a murder committed.
I hear that in that Free Speech is King society anybody can say what they want, as long as they don't hurt anybody. This is proof, and by gob, it's really mind blowing proof:
I'm sorry, this is complete nonsense to me. At the very least, these words are utter apology of violence and they are offensive to a fault. Which takes me to number 2.
Número 2. Your free speech is full or violence or, at the very VERY least, apology of violence, and whoever hides behind the cloak of "these are just word only," they are just throwing the proverbial stone and hiding the proverbial hand.
Rhetoric, through history, is as guilty of hate as any physical violence, if not more, because it's usually instigated by educated enough people that can actually string two words together and inspire those wack jobs who can't really even think if full sentences. Hearing inflamed wording, through history, has initiated more than one assassination.
Speaking evil but acting like an angel isn't credible, and whoever speaks this kind of evil may have just as well pulled the trigger
Free Speech and Personal Responsibility
Many of us are ready to bitch and moan while having beers with friends, but when we're under oath, or when our name is attached to a statement, most of us think carefully how to frame our opinions, in a way that we still use out right to say what we think, free speech and all, but where we protect the right of others to be different, to have diverging opinions.
Most of us don't blabber violence, don't speak words that can be equated to verbal assassination, don't point our index finger while holding the thumb up, a la pisol and trigger, while we speak.
This is exactly what some are doing, and it's all in the name of free speech, something that most of us wouldn't do even with people we thoroughly hate.
I am up to here with incendiary, hate-inspiring free speech which insults the civilized world and converts it into a free for all shooting range.
- Olbermann: Violence and threats have no place in democracy - msnbc tv - Countdown with Keith Olberma
We need to put the guns down. Just as importantly we need to put the gun metaphors away and permanently.
© 2011 Elena.