I have mixed feelings about Freedom of Speech. Most people do not truly understand what it is or what it’s for. I’m going to go over some key points and how Freedom of Speech relates to today.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH
What it allows:
- The right not to speak (specifically, the right not to salute the flag) 1943
- Students have the right to wear black armbands to school to protest a war 1969
- The right to use certain offensive words and phrases to convey political messages 1971
- The right to contribute money (under certain circumstances) to political campaigns 1976
- The right to advertise commercial products and professional services (with some restrictions) 1977
- The right to engage in symbolic speech 1990
What it doesn’t allow:
- You can not incite actions that would harm others 1919
- You can’t make or distribute obscene materials 1957
- You can’t burn your draft card 1968
- Students can’t print articles in a school newspaper over the objection of the school administration 1988
- Students can’t make obscene speech at a school sponsored event 1986
- Students can’t advocate illegal drug use at a school sponsored event 2007
People treat the Internet like a public space. But social media spaces like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and blogs are privately owned spaces. There is no obligation to allow you to speak freely in their space.
Too often online Freedom of Speech is used as a defense mechanism to deflect criticism. People believe social media is a harmless place where people can say what they want and it’s meaningless with no consequence. Unfortunately this isn’t true.
Example based on a true story:
What if you began receiving Photoshopped pictures with nooses next to your head, threats of rape and suffocation, your home address and social security number posted in online forums? Why? Because of your job as a game developer and software programmer. The response from authorities was to move, change your routine, and to watch for people or cars that you see more than once in your area. Not much of a solution.
Freedom of Speech laws were written before the internet was invented. It’s one thing to call someone names or insult them. Threats and posting secure personal information isn’t Freedom of Speech it’s harassment and criminal.
POINT OF VIEW
I like to go on YouTube to look at music videos because you can’t find them on MTV anymore. I have made the mistake of scrolling down and reading the comments on some of them. I’m the type of person who is loyal. Specifically if I know the person. When I see someone calling a band that does have political views a “bunch of pussy faggots that if they don’t like it here they should just f*cking leave”. The negative comments continued and were brutal. This group has been for the working class, the underdog, the misfits, people who feel like they don’t fit in, they are against homophobic people, racists, bullies, anyone who humiliates or suppresses others. They are generous with their time and money. I may have responded a little passionately.
I don’t see the point in going on a band’s Twitter page or YouTube video just to trash them. If you don’t like them, don’t listen. Are people that insecure that this is the only way to make themselves feel better? I will never understand.
There has to be new guidelines put in place for online Speech. I have been the victim of threats because I write about Mental Illness. I have also been threatened because I have written about Domestic Abuse or Violence by a close person. Nothing helps you to heal more than being threatened after writing about a violent experience.
Most people could brush it off. I have Conversion Disorder and I’m Bipolar. Every word spins in my head over and over. I start to doubt my role in that time period. I start to think maybe it was my fault and I deserved it. Maybe I should apologize to the guy for blaming him all these years. After all I was Bipolar and didn’t know it and an alcoholic myself. I must have said or done something to set him off.
To think this way is toxic. To get back on track I had to talk to someone who knew us both at the time. I felt better after. It shouldn’t be that way. I shouldn’t need to validate how I feel or doubt how I feel because of threats from unknown people.
It’s the comments I read from strangers on someone’s Twitter page that bother me the most. Everyone believes because they are “anonymous” they can say what they want. If you wouldn’t say it to their face don’t type it on social media. I can guarantee that 90% of people would never say the things they write on social media to the person’s face.
It’s the coward’s way and I’m tired of it.