We have “Fee-dom” of Speech

Bill Cosby, Kathy Griffin and Colin Kaepernick all have one thing in common, many Americans love to complain about all three.

Cosby has been accused of being a serial rapist.  At the time this is being written, Dr. Cosby is currently on trial so some of my statements may not be accurate depending on when you are reading this, but for now, he has not been convicted of a crime by any court other than the court of public opinion.  However, as a result of the seriousness of his alleged heinous crimes, even his positive legacy has come under attack.

Kathy Griffin has not been relevant in many years.  The despicable act of showing a severed head of Trump deserves the outrage it has received.  Is she truly a threat to the President?  No!  Is she the first person to mockingly “kill” a President?  No!  That however is not the point.  By immediately immersing in the “argument” that the same things have happened to other Presidents and they have happened most recently and often to President Obama, we become a “two wrongs make a right” society.  While we can justify most things that occur in our country, and fall back on the free speech argument,  justification is not truly about right or wrong; it’s merely the “excuses” we often use to sometimes help us feel better about a circumstance.

Colin Kaepernick has not been alleged to have committed a crime, nor has he imitated mock violence. All he has done is protest against people being hurt from real world physical pain and violence.  As a result, he for now is seemingly out of a job because he “hurt” some people’s feelings.  His situation is definitely the one thing that is not like the others, yet many are still outraged and complain about his actions.

We have the right as individuals to feel however we want about any of these three issues and the people involved in them.  However, we shouldn’t be expected to be taken seriously if we are outraged by all three equally.  If an alleged crime, a peaceful protest and a mock beheading all elicit the same response, there is something deeper happening within ourselves then there is with those specific actions.

As Americans, we enjoying complaining.  I am fine with that on many levels, some of it is in “good fun”.  For example, for the die-hard sports fan, we totally eviscerate any team opposing the team to which we have pledged our loyalty.  This type of complaining falls under the “trash talk” moniker or as the political world calls it, “free speech”.

Do we really have free speech?

I am going to suggest we truly don’t have free speech in our country, we have “Fee Speech”!  Freedom of Speech in our country has for some reason become synonymous with freedom from consequences.  Our President is learning this lesson.  He was “free” to Tweet and say what he wanted as a private citizen but as the leader of the free world, those words come with a price and have real consequences.

True freedom of speech is being allowed to express ourselves and complain about whatever the hell we want, without the fear of any government official knocking on our door as the result of something we have said.  What is often times misunderstood is, that is the water’s edge.  I have the right to write whatever I want in my Freedom of Expression platform but that does not protect me from being found guilty in the court of public opinion due to something I express.  It does not protect me from consequences due to my unintentional or intentional lack of sensitivity to a particular cause or people group.  I willingly choose to express myself in this way knowing there is a fee associated with it.

This fee does not give me any rights!  The fee is conscious acknowledgment of the idea that “free thought” is precious and the consequences may be endless.  I am thankful however that there are normally no life or death consequences to the things we choose to say.

That is what ultimately makes America great!  The idea that people have the audacity to coexist and live along side each other in spite of many differences.  As negative as things sometimes seem, our country has certainly seen worse times.  I believe the progress our country has made illustrates both the power of free speech but also highlights the “fees” that have been paid along the way.  No matter what anyone says, America is Great and I accept all Fees!

 


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