Answer me this...
Where the hell do the various protesters get all those American Flags to burn?
I swear I went looking before July 4 -- Independence Day in the Unites States and I had trouble finding one!
Don't worry -- this isn't a political diatribe -- nor is it a religious screed -- not even a thinly veiled politically correct rant...
My real question is about freedom of speech and the exponential effect that instant immediate access of digital channels brings to the fore.
I am passionate on this subject and have written about it before.
I fully believe that freedom of anything demands accountability in return. Speech is no different. And while words might not kill -- they can wound -- and sadly we know that they can incite suicide, murder and mayhem.
Which begs the question -- which words then are restricted; what actions need to be curtailed; where do I have the right to limit your ability of expression, and at the end of the day what is my right of reaction?
In my opinion -- when I invade your privacy -- as we have seen so often -- I have no right of freedom to share or otherwise disseminate that information. And if I do, and I cause you serious anguish -- even onto death I must suffer the consequences and accept accountability -- not hide behind some lame interpretation of open Internet.
And although the corollary might seem trite given the sad and horrific deaths in Libya and elsewhere -- but the young royal couple of England are fighting the same battle.
By the same token I have no right to incite anyone against you because I don't like your religion, race or creed. This goes across the board. And there are no excuses.
Lord knows I don't have to agree with you; I don't have to like you or what you stand for -- but I will fight for your right to credibly and respectfully express yourself.
On the other hand -- racists and bigots and fanatics have no right of expression. Sheer baseless hatred has no place in our global society and we as citizens of Generation World need to be vigilant in our own evangelizing of the values we cherish and share.
I leave it to you to decide if a poorly made and written movie with an ignorant basis, that has ignited way more than burned flags -- leaving death and destruction is protected or not.
Perhaps Salman Rushdie gives us a clue -- as he suffered serious personal consequences of the same question.
Will we become so politically correct that we will lose our ability to have real dialogue and discussion?
And will we become frightened to express ourselves; to laugh; to cry; to share because the consequences become no longer legal but violent.
Frankly we have the obligation to speak out when freedom of speech is being abused. It is our accountability as part of Generation World -- it is the price we have to pay for the openness and the connectivity we enjoy and for all the good and great it has brought our world.
And that obligation crosses all boarders and all boundaries -- none of us get a free pass to insult the other.
And there can be no recourse to violence simply because I feel insulted -- where does that ever end?
Because if you don't stand up for the stuff you don't like, when they come for the stuff you do like, you've already lost.
And there you have it -- we need to be sensitive. We need to stand up for the right to be confronted with what we don't like -- because if we don't soon we will be bereft of all expression ... and the consequences of that scenario are too frightening.
If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.
And as I said -- with it all comes the accountability for what you say.
One last thought...
Jim C. Hines
Freedom of speech does not protect you from the consequences of saying stupid shit.
What do you think?
And by the way -- WHERE DO THEY GET ALL THOSE FLAGS!