I see this all the time, I’m sure you do too. A lot of people seem to think that their right to free speech somehow overrides anyone’s ability to criticize what they have to say or any possible consequences for the speech they engage in. Sorry folks, it just isn’t true.
This was once again brought home to me when I received a call from a friend who is a securities broker. He called to vent over an employee he had to terminate. Apparently, it was a guy in his early 20s who had recently been “saved”. Now I’m sure that anyone who has been around one of the newly-indoctrinated can recognize the sort, they’re “on fire for Jesus” and they want to tell anyone and everyone that will listen how great it makes them feel. Unfortunately, this guy was doing it at work. He was littering the office with tracts and bothering people on their breaks, trying to pass on the “Good News”. Now my friend, who runs the office, had to sit this guy down a couple of times and tell him to lighten up because people were complaining that he was harassing them, but when it became clear that he wasn’t limiting his unwanted evangelism to his co-workers, but he was doing it to clients as well, that was the last straw and my friend put him through the termination process. The part he wanted to vent about though is the fact that the religious zealot seemed to think that his guaranteed and “God-given” right to free speech meant that he got to say whatever was on his mind to whoever he could find and could not be abridged, my friend was clearly engaging in religious harassment and he’d sue!
Sure pal, go ahead. Knock yourself out.
While this is clearly a case of someone who misunderstands the concept of free speech, it’s just not that uncommon, I’m sure most of us have had the experience of disagreeing with a theist and they come back with “you can’t tell me I’m wrong, you’re stifling my freedom!” No, sorry, pointing out how flawed your arguments are is not limiting your ability to speak, it’s just showing that your speech is invalid.
This is even commonplace in the atheist “community” where people seem to think that they deserve to be given a voice wherever they choose to stop and unload their drivel. While I’m not a fan of censorship, I am a fan of being reasonable and if you own a website or moderate a forum, you get to decide who can say what there. I’ve deleted quite a few insulting, demeaning comments here that clearly violate my comment policy and I’ve had people send me nasty e-mail accusing me of denying them their free speech. Fuck them. See, nobody is required to provide you a venue for your speech. They can tell you, assuming they control or own the area, that you are not free to speak. That’s not taking away your freedom of speech, it’s just requiring you to take it elsewhere. In the above example, my friend was not telling his former employee that he couldn’t talk about God until he was blue in the face, he was saying that he could not do it at work and certainly, he could not do it to his clients. Outside of work, outside of the building, he’s free to say whatever he wants to whoever he wants and he’ll only be held accountable if he makes the company look bad.
Actions, any actions, whether you like it or not, come with potential consequences. A wise person understands those consequences and considers them before taking actions that may incur negative results. A fool, and let’s be honest, the people we’re talking about fall mostly into that category, never thinks ahead and spends their lives behind the 8-ball.
So Shaun, even though you don’t read my blog, keep up the good work, you made the right decision and your ex-employee deserves what he got. Hopefully the next guy you hire will know what being a professional is all about and will understand boundaries. Far too many theists seem to completely misunderstand that concept.