Monday, November 29, 2010

Free speech comes at a price

We don't have the First Amendment to protect speech in general. We have it to protect the offensive kinds of speech that otherwise would not be protected.
Asia Bibi, a Christian Pakistani, is facing death for allegedly insulting Muhammed. This is unquestionably a travesty.
And it makes me so, so grateful for freedom of speech, even when people's exercise of it sets my teeth on edge. Yes, that crazy "Baptist" group that yells hateful things at soldiers' funerals -- they offend me on every level, but they have the right to do what they do. As do, fortunately, the bikers who rev their engines loud enough to drown the other folks out and the protesters of the protesters.
Those people who use the f-bomb at every opportunity, even when it's totally inappropriate; the abortion protesters who wave graphic pictures of aborted fetuses; the war protesters who yell insults at the very group of people who guarantee them the right to scream insults -- all are symbols that our country is better off than others around the world that don't allow for that kind of dissent.
Yes, free speech is most certainly not free. The cost is discomfort, being offended or appalled, hearing ideas that aren't in keeping with yours. Being told you're wrong.
But the cost is not death. So enjoy your First Amendment rights.

1 comment:

  1. I think people (myself included) tend to lose sight of the fact that freedoms are for everyone - not just those we agree with.