Freedom of Speech is not Freedom from Consequences

consequencesI 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.

12 thoughts on “Freedom of Speech is not Freedom from Consequences”

    1. You have to remember that to any of these religious fanatics, God comes first and everything else comes a distant second and if you point out how wrong they are about that, they declare religious discrimination. I've had a lot of discussions with similar people who tell me that the only laws they follow are God's laws and the legal system might be able to lock up their bodies but their spirits belong to God. If anything bad happens to them as a result of their religious buffoonery, they declare those that caused it to be anti-religious Christian haters. Come on, you know how the game goes.

    1. You have to remember that to a lot of religious zealots, free speech applies to their own beliefs 100% and not at all to anyone else's beliefs. That's why you get people who think that you ought to be able to pray at graduation ceremonies, only so long as it's a Christian prayer. Denying them the "right" to pray as they like, while keeping other religions from praying as they like, is religious persecution in the eyes of these wingnuts.

  1. I think you mentioned an important line here, that been the line between censorship and being reasonable. I bring this up as I feel I go the hard end of the stick regarding moderation recently. But It is their blog and so I suppose if they want they are allowed to moderate me, luckily my blog also gives me a platform to respond to comments made.

    Now that I type it in my own words it seems petty. Maybe its time to take the post down….. nah I will irritate the other person for a week or so 😉
    My recent post I dont think thats honest moderation

    1. See, you got me thinking. Damn you Grundy! 🙂

      Is it interesting that if you exercised your free will by talking during prayers or criticizing sermons, you'd be seen as disrespectful, and certainly if this kid had been giving a Muslim prayer, he'd have been decried by Christians, but because it's their prayer, he's now a hero? How does giving one kind of prayer over another make one more or less respectful or heroic?

      These people are utter hypocrites.

  2. " 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,,,".

    Exactly. If you want to speak, do so on your own soapbox, but don't try to crowd me off mine.
    My recent post Corporate Fraud As a Weapon Against Workers

    1. Which is exactly what the Atheism+ assholes are trying to do with Ron Lindsay right now, isn't it? They took his soapbox, paid for by the group he's president and CEO of and are telling him to go to hell because he dared speak from it.

      Fuck these stupid cunts.

  3. Too many people think that the right of free speech includes the right to an audience. FAR too many people think they have the right to force someone to be their audience. But, coupled with the right to free speech is the right of others to not listen.

    1. Agreed. Not only do they think others have to be their audience, they think that others have to agree with them and make them feel good about their views, otherwise their rights are being restricted.

      How we ever got this absurdly entitlement-happy society, I'll never know.

  4. The self-righteousness and intolerance described are examples of the pervasive narcissistic outlook that says:
    I do whatever I want.
    I can always justify what I do.
    Whatever I do is right.
    Because everything I do is right, I must always be respected.
    My recent post Why Would Anyone Want to Control You?

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