Friday, February 17, 2006

"Free speech", defined

I've seen quite a bit lately over the University of Washington student government's slandering of a former USMC. As I mentioned, the Seattle fishwrap paints a sympathetic picture for these poor misunderstood miscreants who run the UW student government, asserting that "UW students face barbs of free speech".

I don't think I've really discussed this before, but it's high time I did. So here goes:

Leftists don't seem to understand what "free speech" means. It's quite simple, really.

"Free speech" means you can't go to jail simply by uttering words. Sure, there are a small number of exceptions like screaming "Fire!" in a crowded movie theater. But by and large, you don't get arrested for saying stupid things.

The Founders of this country understood that citizens should be able to speak their minds about their government and its officials without fear of persecution, specifically jail or death. China, among several other places, do not seem to agree.

"Free speech" does NOT, however, mean that the person who utters said speech is exempt from the consequences that arise from uttering said speech. For example, if I walk into a room with NAACP members and scream the "N-word" out loud, does that act of supreme ignorance shield me from being yelled at, physically acosted, shown on the news, etc.?

The Dixie, Chicks...said some things about Bush back in 2003 while they were in England. Did they go to jail for exercising their right to free speech? Nope. Did they get angry e-mails, letters, faxes, and phone calls? Yep. Did their record sales suffer? Yep. That, my friends, is free speech.

It's simple. Say what you want, since this country won't cut out your tongue like the Taliban would have. But don't bellyache about the fallout from your words. Actions and words have consequences, and if you fear the consequences (real or potential) too much, then you're equally free to keep your speech to yourself.

Free to speak, free to shut this country awesome or what? :-)