For the next five to ten minutes, however long it takes to read this blog post, you, the reader need to forget that you are either a conservative or a liberal. There will be no finger pointing because we are all to blame… And there will be adult language in here.
Someone did a survey and released it in a news article about college students’ understanding of the first amendment. A surprisingly high number said it was acceptable to use violence to silence the voice of someone they found offensive.
What the fuck?
That number was high for students that identified as conservatives, liberals, and no designation… so everyone. Again, what the fuck?
For everyone of my generation or older, this should be terrifying. We grew up learning that you can disagree with someone and still let them speak, it was their right after all. That’s what the first amendment is all about. If I want to say president Trump reminds me of a tall, angry oompa-loompa (the Gene Wilder Willy Wonka type), I have that right. You don’t have to agree with me. You don’t have to like that I said it. You can tell me why you think I’m wrong. You can even call me a moronic asshole to all your friends and tweet it to the President…
But resorting to violence to shut me up? Um, no, that’s still assault. Especially since it is protected speech. What an Orwellian nightmare to have to worry that future generations do not really believe in freedom of speech.
Sure, I’d rather not listen to a Grand Wizard spew about the inferiority of minorities, homosexuals, and anyone else they can come up with to hate, but as long as they are not trying to incite a riot or a lynching, I don’t have the right to hit him in the head with a pipe to make him stop talking. He has rights. I have rights. Mostly, I have the right to walk away from whatever Klan rally I’ve stumbled upon. And as an adult, that is exactly what I would and should do, since I do not hold those same beliefs.
Removing our freedom of speech is the first step towards fascism and frankly, not teaching our young adults what freedom of speech or fascism is should be a crime. I don’t want to live in a country where soldiers fight and die for my sorta freedoms.
Unfortunately, that’s where we are headed if this next generation isn’t taught a little more about what freedoms really are and what they really mean. I want to be able to say the last 3 presidents have totally sucked and not have the Secret Service and FBI show up at my doorstep. I want to be able to have discussions with people because we have different opinions without worrying they are going to attack me with baseball bats in the parking lot afterwards. I want to be able to agree to disagree.
Because frankly, that’s all taking offense to something someone said is… You disagree with them and so it offends you. We all do it. It’s in our very nature. It is as much a part of the human condition as death. A reader and I got into a very heated conversation once about one of my blog posts because we have very different opinions on something… We exchanged a dozen or more emails regarding it with me explaining my position and her explaining hers. I didn’t feel the need to go beat her up. I don’t think she felt the need to come beat me up. I listened to her and she listened to me. In the end, neither of us changed our minds or our positions, but we agreed to disagree, because we understand that everyone is different and we have the right not to agree with each other.. It doesn’t make either of us bad people, just people with different backgrounds and opinions. I didn’t ban her from posting comments on my blog. I didn’t block her email address through my mail server. I don’t groan or roll my eyes when I see she has posted a comment on something, because I respect her right to say what she thinks and I know she respects my right to free speech (and for the record, we aren’t talking about a discussion regarding something small and trivial, it was a major thing for both of us).
Yet this upcoming generation of young people don’t seem to understand that. For most of us, this was just part of growing up, it was something we learned early and had it brow beaten into us by government classes all through junior high/middle school and high school. By the time we got to college, we understood that hate speech was still protected free speech and that calling the vice president a moron was fine, but that we couldn’t issue death threats without consequences and that EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE A VOICE regardless of race, gender, education level, or opinions.
Scary article here… It is mildly boring and the tables can be a little confusing at times, but essentially, it says we are screwed unless we do something like require incoming freshmen to take something like Understanding Constitutional Rights alongside freshman English and college algebra.
You may now put your conservative or liberal hats back on, I am stepping off the soapbox for the time being. However, in the spirit of Halloween, if you really want some scary reading along these lines, check out the book We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, which I thought was better than Orwell’s 1984.