Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Freedom of Speech and Consequence?

A week or two ago a picture went viral of a guy named Thomas Mcguinness who was pointing a gun at a cat as apparently a crude joke. He was located and the animal involved was verified as okay.  What caught my eye was not the continued outrage at this twisted joke but was one of the comments about free speech. "Freedom of speech. Yeah, the guy has a twisted sense of humor, but if they now know he hasn't harmed any animals, then the judgmentalism (sic) needs to be put away" wrote one of the commentators. You can look him up on the link.

Then came the passing of Robin Williams.  Most of us were hit hard by the loss of such a legendary talent.  I say most because a few nationally known talking heads actually decided to use the death as sick and twisted talking political points or to demonstrate their complete lack of understanding of the devastating disease that is clinically severe depression.  It is not something that anyone would choose.  I am planning a more detailed blog about these fools later. No, what I wanted to point out was that trolls decided it would be "fun" to send Robin Williams' daughter, Zelda, some sick pics and twisted tweets.  The result is that she is leaving the on-line community perhaps for good.  It took the unexpected death that shook up many a person and the terrible treatment of his family to get Twitter to finally look at its "Use Policy."

I am sure that those accounts that were suspended had much the same reaction as the guy in comments about the photo.  "Hey, it's freedom of speech." Perhaps other social networks whether it is Tumblr or Instagram or Facebook will also start patrolling the trolls. Understand that when an account is suspended for hate trolling, it is not limiting freedom of speech.  It is the folks in the room announcing they do not have to listen to this malarkey, and they are showing that person where the exit is.  We also have freedom not to put up with hate or stupidity.  It is the equivalent of changing the channel.

I wrote about trolls a few weeks back.  I don't think that many trolls even know they are trolls.  They think they are witty and clever.   The point is though that we need to remember that the person on the other end is not an digital entity, but a real flesh and blood.  It is high time that social sites began to monitor the trolls and make their accounts disappear.  Yes, it will be an unending task, but it really needs to be done.

You see it all goes back to that "freedom of speech" statement.  Freedom does not mean without consequence.  With freedom comes responsibility, and far too often, it seems, folks on the extreme have forgotten this.  You are actually free to yell "FIRE" in a crowded movie theater when there isn't one.  The fact is that you will face the consequence for such an action.  Whether it's carrying a gun or expressing your opinion or practicing your religion, these freedoms have consequence.  They have weight.  They are not just something floating around without effect in the digital ether.  Occasionally we need to remind ourselves that with any freedom we have consequences.  So the next time you fire up that profanity filled rant or personal attack on someone remember that there are consequences.

To blatantly steal and paraphrase: With great Freedoms comes great Responsibility.