Anthony Szczepkowski profile image Anthony Szczepkowski

Free Speech: The Risk of Being Offended

Ironically, I bet some were offended by the title. Now, you have every right to be offended, but that does not mean that you are right. To have true free speech we must be able to criticize everything and everyone. Look to those you can not criticize, they are the

Free Speech: The Risk of Being Offended
Photo by Jason Rosewell / Unsplash

Ironically, I bet some were offended by the title. Now, you have every right to be offended, but that does not mean that you are right.

To have true free speech we must be able to criticize everything and everyone. Look to those you can not criticize, they are the ones with power. In any sort of totalitarian state, you definitely could not criticize Stalin or Hitler for example as you would be unalived.

On a less life-threatening note, I think people misconstrue what free speech is. It is the god given right to articulate your own thoughts, beliefs, and opinions.

This is how discourse occurs. Two potentially opposite viewpoints argue their ideas one way or another through the use of free speech.

To truly have free speech, we must be able to say things that other people dislike, as it is impossible to have everyone agree with what you say, other than the means of force and groupthink.

Your Soap Box

Ah yes, the ability to speak your mind. Whether or not people agree is up to them. But everyone should be given a right to speak their mind. Even the crazies.

Why, you may ask? The onus should fall on people to criticize bad viewpoints whether it be morally or practically wrong.

In terms of practicality, an example would be that I want to build a bridge from America To France. And I think it is a magnificent option, but it lacks practicality. People should have the ability to tell me it is a stupid idea.

An example of morality would be that you want people to stay segregated based on race. Obviously, this is a morally bankrupt idea, but I do think to be truly free we have to allow people to say as bad an idea as this one.

As I said before, the onus is on the people to observe, be skeptical, and criticize people's viewpoints.

Silencing people is not a way to win the hearts and minds of people, but rather a totalitarian way to enslave the minds of men.

“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say." — George R.R. Martin

Discourse: The Necessity Of Free Thought

Don't you love how amazing everyone is at discourse, especially in politics nowadays, we are all very respectful and polite. If only.

That's not to say we don't have good talks, but the art of discourse has been lost to us for much time now.

Shouting at people who disagree, or insulting them as opposed to criticizing our ideas. Lincoln would be rolling in his grave.

Good communication is one of the fundamentals if not the fundamentals of any good relationship whether it be romantic, or political.

As a society, we need to cultivate a better ability to discuss different viewpoints without outright labeling our opponent as an extremist or any other label under the sun.

We need to get back to using logic and reason to support our arguments rather than just relying on whatever hit piece or new headline is fed to us as we spout our newly formed "opinion" which is just talking points that we have heard.

What we need is honesty and true discourse. One of the wisest things you can say when asked a question is "I Don't Know". You are humble enough to say you don't know what you don't know, as opposed to spouting some half-baked ideas pulled right out of your ass.

Cultivating the ability to listen, not listening to respond, but listening to understand, will help us tremendously in terms of solving problems.

Free speech is the ability to listen to opinions, especially ones you don't like.

Criticism Misconstrued As Hate

There seems to be a recent trend of when you say anything that is not a 100% endorsement of someone, you are somehow a terrible human being.

Just because someone criticizes what you say doesn't mean they hate you. They are simply poking holes in your argument that you may or may not have seen.

This can be useful in the lens of sports for example. If your football coach says you were too wide on the last pass, then you would want to make a more tight turn the following play. You may not have known that unless your coach criticized you. In this case, it was positive criticism, your coach wants you to get better.

The intention is important in matters of criticism, as you can point out flaws in an attempt to bring people down or provide criticism in an attempt to help others help themselves.

Criticism must be allowed if free speech is to endure. If we only agree and endorse every single illusion everyone wishes to live, then reality will become a hodgepodge of lives devoid of fact, and full of delusion.

Social criticism is a societal checks and balances system of which we all are part of. Now, just because society says it is wrong does not necessarily make it so. However, it allows us to be self-aware and actually think about the fact that we may be wrong.

I think a common belief of today goes something like this "Sounds like accountability to me, I don't know if I can handle it."

And so many people reject criticism out of ego and then label it as hate. This can keep you from learning to become something better.

Unfortunately, my generation, the participation award generation, has begun to see anything that is a critique as harmful or even dangerous. This causes high levels of ego which is endorsed by our current social media-driven society.

We need the natural barriers of morality and integrity to keep us in check, not censorship.

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle

Anthony Szczepkowski profile image Anthony Szczepkowski