Ruminations, etc..

Musings, rantings, and pie.

Freedom of Speech, Just Watch What You Say

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This morning I was reading a site called ProBasketBallTalk.Com (guess what it discusses), and I came across an article about some douchebag that wore a Lebron James Heat jersey to a Cleveland Indians game a few weeks ago.  Clevelanders are still sore about James leaving and the way he left, so, when this idiot shows up to the game wearing James’s new Heat jersey, things got tense.  Like so tense he had to be escorted out of the ballpark in the Sixth inning.  That was probably a smart thing to do.  This is the town that showered their football team in plastic beer bottles when a call didn’t go their way.  Tough crowd.

Anyway, the Miami Heat got wind of this idiot and thought it was funny.  So, the Heat offered the clown an all-expenses paid trip and VIP treatment at an upcoming Heat game.  Of course, when word of this trip got out, via the moron’s Facebook page, the Heat decided the offer was “premature” and is not bringing the kid down for a game after all.

What dopes.

But that’s not what caused me to put pen to paper (or, in this case, fingers to keyboard).  Nope.  That story, while idiotic, is everything I expect from the Miami heat organization: it was classless, poorly thought out, and tacky.  No, dear Reader, what got my juices flowing was this lovely comment from some dude named GlobalCons. Here it is, addressed to the author of the piece, in its entirety.

 

Hey Kurt, maybe you need to be reminded that when you live in this country there is a little       thing called free speech, first amendment. You remember that right? Oh forgot your a a______,               journalist, who couldn’t make it at a real job. Next time you want to grandstand, try sticking up          for the fan who has a right to cheer for whatever team, wherever he wants. Unless you can        show where he broke the law, your story is garbage. Ever been to basketball game? Lots of    people cheer for the visiting team too….its called A FAN. Hats off to the Heat, who understand it,                 even if you dont.

 

GlobalCons trucks in one of the most common misconception of the First Amendment: that it applies anywhere.

I see this kind of confusion all the time, and it’s not just relegated to the Interwebs.  Nope, you hear it whenever someone is told to shut up or when someone is told he’s being a moron.  “Hey! I got Freedom of Speech man! So screw you!” Sorry pal, but you don’t.

Here’s the rub about your Freedom of Speech: it only applies to the government.  Yep, that’s it. Not to private conversations, not to private companies, not to private citizens.  In fact, your Freedom of Speech has been watered down by the courts so much that, really, the only Freedom of Speech you have is the freedom to stand on the sidewalk and shout nonsense till your heart’s content.   So long as that nonsense isn’t “fighting words,” that is.

This is Just Dumb...

As mentioned above, you also see this misunderstanding trotted out whenever someone is told he’s being an idiot. Apparently, people believe that the First Amendment guarantees them the right to have their expressions respected.    Sorry Sunshine — that’s not the case.  The First Amendment only prevents the government from shutting down your speech in certain areas.  It does not mean anyone has to respect your harebrained ideas or politely tolerant your rancid dribble.  No one idea’s or thoughts are entitled to respect in this country, and there are many ideas that do not belong in adult discourse at all (Birthers, I’m looking at you). Now, we can talk about whether this is a good thing (I’m inclined to think we, as a society, could stand being a little nicer to each other), but, legally, no one has to respect what you say.

If someone shows up at an Indians game wearing a Lebron James jersey, yeah, it’s within his right to do so, but it’s also within everyone else’s rights to tell him, loudly, that he’s being a complete moron.  If you do the same kind of garbage at a private facility, they can tell you to leave and the First Amendment can do nothing for you, man.  This also applies to the Internet.  No one has to give you a forum to spout your opinion on the Internet.  So, if your message board account at BarelyLegal.Com is shut down, or you’re banned from Chud.Com, you do not have a First Amendment claim.   The world will have to do without your opinions of whether or not the new Thundercats cartoon is grim’n’gritty enough.

To sum up, unless the government is coming down on you, the First Amendment probably doesn’t apply to your life whatsoever.  No private entity has to give you a forum for you to voice your opinions, and if the entity is kind enough to do so, it does not have to respect your ideas. Which goes double for private citizens.  You have no Freedom of Speech with me, nor I with you.  If you’re saying dumb crap, I will tell you you’re saying dumb crap.  I’d expect the same from you, but my opinions are always well-thought out and perfectly reasonable to the point of being dull.

No, really. It’s true.  Just ask me.

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Written by B. Michael Krol

November 5, 2010 at 3:06 pm

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