Freedom of Speech and Rudeness

390 Words2 Pages
I’ve come to the conclusion that most people are confused about what “free speech” means. It seems as though rude people want to use it as a way to avoid the consequences of their rudeness. I think it’s time we realized what free speech really means — and I also think it’s time for more of us to stand up for public civility. We’ve become a rude and mean society, with many people believing that it’s acceptable to verbally trash others at will — and also believing that they’re being invaded upon if anyone calls them on the behaviour. Sometimes the rudeness is political. Sometimes it’s cultural or based in some form of “tribalism.” And other times, it’s just based on saying what feels good at the moment, for various emotional reasons. What’s missing is a sense of civility that we can all strive to live up to. We don’t all have to agree with each other. (In fact, we can strongly disagree.) We don’t even have to like each other. But we’re stuck living with one another — and we’d all be happier people and this would be a more pleasant society if we could learn to disagree without the hate and incivility that have become so common. As for free speech, let’s be clear about one thing. Free speech simply means that you have the right to say what you want without governments having the power to stop you or to punish you for what you say. There was a time when I was far more likely to get mixed up in arguments that weren’t very civil. They got me upset and angry. I had to reach the point that I wasn’t willing to be that person before I could step back from those arguments. It’s a saner way to live — learning that even if you disagree with others, maybe some things really are best left unsaid. Life is too short to waste it with anger and bitterness about disagreements of any kind. I think we all need to expect more civility from each other. In the war for civility, we first
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