Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Hard Part of the First Amendment

If you accept -- and I do -- that freedom of speech is important, then you are going to have to defend the indefensible.
 - Neil Gaiman, 2008

In other words, you can't justifiably use the first amendment to further your own agenda without allowing others the right to not only further their own, but also counter and attack your own, so long as they don't do it libelously.

Maybe in other countries (like China or North Korea) you can call out those who argue against your sense of decency (which isn't universal, regardless how much you wish or want it to be), but not here. The ol' US of A has its issues, it's problems, and I won't begrudge you your right to call it out on them (or to disagree with me that they exist), nor will I block or delete your comments if you choose to present them. It would be perfectly alright for me to do so because this is my space and I might not want my readers to hear your side, but I can't stop you from presenting them somewhere else; you could even go so far as to pay for some of my advertising space with an argument against me (and I'd actually encourage it).

I am against book banning. I can understand restricting certain books from being read by members of the population who are below the age of consent (or who have parental/guardainship permission). I see book banning as just another form of one-sided first amendment support. I've actually had several teachers and instructors who encouraged reading banned books.

There are books and movies and other medias that are banned from the US altogether, and I hate it. Regardless how I feel about the individual pieces themselves, I feel such a practice is revolting.

And lastly, I don't see defending your viewpoint or agenda with violence as acceptable. The only thing you should fight words with is more words.


What you should do, if you feel your agenda is being threatened is to challenge it with your own argument. If you lose followers, then maybe your argument wasn't as strong as you thought. It's the normal Challenge of Faith: those who have the strongest faith in their belief have questioned it, have fought with it, have taken it apart and put it back together again.

Sometimes the challenge breaks your faith, sometimes it changes it or redirects it, but it can only grow stronger for the challenge.

Even if you're not up and recent on the news (I'm certainly not) this should ring important and true.

Je suis Charlie.

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