Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Freedom of Speech

I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool, the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking.- Woodrow T. Wilson

Freedom of speech = the freedom to speak freely without censorship or limitation. To break that down further, say what you want, when you want.

As our next generation of proud young Americans embraces this inherent right I'm wondering if maybe it's time to oh, I don't know, somehow restrict it? Just a little teeny bit?

I propose to add 2, just 2, modifiers: 1 - If you won't say it in front of your grandma, don't say it in public and 2 - Just because you're famous, doesn't mean you're bright. Don't offer opinions on things you know nothing about.

Recently I took a train from NYC to Boston. Here's the short version: Train was delayed 2 hours, overbooked with overtired people. A young couple (over 21, as indicated by the beers they immediately brought back from the club car) couldn't find seats, or so they said. The conductor told them they couldn't sit in the business car as they had not upgraded, there were seats elsewhere in coach. "Well, not froggy together." (for the sake of our PG13 rating, I've replaced the F-bomb with the word froggy, because I like frogs) "I'm sorry, this is business class. Did you walk to the last car on the train?" "We saw other froggy people coming back from there so we didn't froggy bother." "Well, you have to pay for the upgrade to sit in this car." "How much?" "Another $30 each." "Are you froggy kidding me??? We waited two froggy hours for this froggy train, you'd think you'd froggy refund our froggy money."

Twenty something years ago, when their mama's were smiling down at their little cherub faces as they babbled their first words (I'm hoping it was more "da-da"and less "froggy") do you think this is what they had in mind when they encouraged them to talk? I don't think so.

Don't get me wrong, I certainly have expressed myself many a time with words that are more um, colorful in nature, especially when I'm ticked off (Disclaimer: I never curse at anyone. Or call people names. Ever. Not to their faces anyway.). But my fellow Americans, there is a time and place for everything. Would you speak to your grandmother like that? Would you use that language when interviewing for a job? How did this become part of your everyday speech then, because clearly you can shut it off when you feel it's necessary.

But tweaking the Freedom of Speech Act is not just about foul language. No, I say we include a paragraph or two about celebrities and politicians, those who influence and shape our great nation, sort of. I propose the three strikes and you're out rule under the 2nd modifier (see above). Publicly say something stupid three times and that's it. No more public speaking for you. (Which would blow George Bush, Dan Quayle, Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson right out of the water)

Under the new, modified Act people like Britney Spears will not be allowed to talk about anything except her shade of lipstick and who she's dating. Her opinions on political affairs should be restricted to whether or not Michelle Obama should wear red.
To reinforce my point, here's a few examples of brilliant moments. Can you guess who said what?
  1. "I’ve never really wanted to go to Japan. Simply because I don’t like eating fish. And I know that’s very popular out there in Africa"
  2. I think that the film Clueless was very deep. I think it was deep in the way that it was very light. I think lightness has to come from a very deep place if it’s true lightness.”
  3. I think gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.”
  4. Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning?”
  5. If you have intercourse you run the risk of dying and the ramifications of death are final.”
  6. “[I hope] my child will be a good Catholic like me.”
  7. "Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country."
  8. "I favor access to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."
  9. "We don't necessarily discriminate. We simply exclude certain types of people."
  10. "After finding no qualified candidates for the position of principal, the school board is extremely pleased to announce the appointment of David Steele to the post."
  11. "I haven't committed a crime. What I did was fail to comply with the law."
Answers:
1- Britney Spears, 2 - Alicia Silverstone, 3 - Arnold Schwarzenegger, 4 - George Bush, 5 - Cyndi Lauper, 6 - Madonna, 7 - Mayor Marion Barry, 8 - Ted Kennedy, 9 - Colonel Gerald Wellman, 10 - Superintendent of Schools, Barrington, RI, 11 - Mayor David Dinkins

What have you heard or overheard lately that's made you cringe?

4 comments:

Robin's New Song said...

what does that mean for really smooth liars?

Terresa said...

The f-bomb really bugs me as far as words/phrases that grate. I can't imagine overhearing that conversation...next time, make sure you have some cotton balls for your ears and soap for their mouths. ;)

SharonK said...

Even smooth liars will eventually get caught, let them keep talking and if the law doesn't get them, God will!

And thanks Terresa, great suggestion, I think we lost something when moms stopped washing their kids mouths out with soap!

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