So, time for some soapboxing!
Well, I’ve rewritten this thing like half a dozen times now, so here’s attempt #7! In light of recent events, the freedom of speech has once again come under attack. This time, however, there have been atrocious and vile consequences as innocent people have lost their lives to vicious mobs expressing their outrage to a single, unimaginably bad, inflammatory, trolling, Youtube video. I won’t get into this exact event too much, but lets just say that I can’t find reason in these actions. It is beyond any kind of sensible comprehension that a single piece of media could cause the loss of innocent human lives. I feel much pain for those that have suffered by the hand of blind animalistic violence. And that’s all we’ll get into that for now.
But this event has spurred much debate with what is covered by the freedom of speech. Does everything get covered or is it selective? Do certain things need to be censored or is it an everything goes type thing? Ever since we as people have carried a voice, or written down our thoughts, or even currently, created interactive medias, there have been others who want to silence the messages they carry. There is power in voice. Not just literally speech, but all forms of media; music, art, literature, performances, and the interactive (gaming). And all of which, have been the subject to heated scrutiny as to the validity of their existence. Some feel that “words” can hurt; they can incite or degrade. This is true. A good speech could rally troops to victory, or upstart a revolution to crush a kingdom. They can be visual and be graphic; they can show us the things we fear, we hate, and cause us to be outraged. Speech has great great power. And that is why it is one of the most sacred tennants of our society; the first in fact. It is our most basic right of being a sentient creature, the right of free expression of one’s self. It is not always a reflection of our mind and soul, but sometimes a critique, a shared understanding, and most definitely, an immutable voice to be heard. Our species has waged wars for the rights of free expression, and the attacks from those who wish to silence us has never ceased.
Granted, among the vast majority of great works out there that are the epitome of this freedom, there are, lets just say, things that are less than savory. Some of the byproducts of free speech are, well, utter crap. While you have those that use it to voice creativity, celebration, or criticism, there are still many that use it in some misguided ways. If you’ve been on the internet for more than 5 minutes, you’ll probably know what I mean. There are many things out there that are total rubbish and some are just plane wrong. But there’s the problem. For there to be a society of free peoples who are granted the rights of self expression, then all of it must be valid*. (note here… all is a funny word, if it violates basic laws or directly causes un-consensual harm to others, then it can not be valid. But I guess that’s probably debatable as well.) We must stand firm, together, for every idiotic word, for every offensive video, for every disgusting art, or downright pure filth of a attempt to troll, we must protect it. It isn’t a matter of what we like or if we find it to be a valid form of art or not, as a society, we have to defend its right to exist. And that’s where we have to ( no matter how much it pains us to do so) stand up for our constitution and philosophies that no matter how much we may hate what you say, we will with every last breath, uphold your right to say it.
At the end of the day, “sticks and stones may break our bones, but words can never harm us”. Hurt, yes; harm, no. Sure, we might be offended or offput by certain things. Hell, I have no desire to watch The Human Centipede, but I’m not going to go on a crusade to have it erased from the annals of history. Nor will I riot in the streets. There is absolutely zero justification for ever harming an innocent person because of your outrage over something. Zero. So there should be no other reaction to offensive media other than feeling putout or just embarrassed that you are genetically related to the species of the creator of the work. That is all. While we reserve the right to freely express ourselves, we also have the right to ignore what others are expressing. It doesn’t effect you. Only the actions and reactions of others does, and while the venn diagrams might touch a little, they never overlap. People, supposedly, have brains, so the actions they take based on the expressions of others is solely their own. It is just that clear and simple. So the fact that creative expression has ever tried to be squelched is beyond incomprehensible.
So keep all that in mind next time you see something on the news about this or that being the cause of some sort of outrage that threatens the freedoms of others… because if you start to silence just one, then before long nobody will have a voice.