Free Speech

 

I remember having a conversation with some friends from church a couple of years ago. One was upset that there was a sign on the TTC from an atheist organization and thought it shouldn’t be allowed, but were thrilled there was a sign from a Christian organization. But even though I disagreed with the atheist ad, the truth was clear – if one ad was allowed to be there, the other had every right to as well.

Two quotes immediately come to mind when I think about free speech: “Sure, you’re free to do it, but what does it mean to do it?” and “living where there’s free speech means sometimes you get offended”. And in my opinion, both are right.

Right now there is a lot going on. A lot of people are upset, and they want to be heard – and they should be. But in turn they should also listen – and that doesn’t seem to be happening. The university protests are an example of this; people demand their side be heard, but then verbally harass, assault, shout at, browbeat, and turn violent on people who disagree with them. They come up with any number of terms to dismiss the other side without hearing them. That kind of response is not compatible with free speech.

Please don’t get it twisted, I’m not saying don’t be offended – but what I am saying is that if you want others to hear and listen to why you think and feel the way you do, you should be willing to hear their side. You could both learn something – even if you don’t change their mind.

Protesting Milo (or whomever, I needed an example) in the extreme ways that are going on should not be happening. Disagree with him by all means, even (peacefully) protest, but don’t block his chance to speak. Dare I say even listen – you may gain an understanding why people agree with his view.

Open dialogue is a good thing – it challenges us and helps us grow. Retreating to extreme safe spaces and only speaking to those who are like-minded doesn’t, nor does painting the other side in broad strokes based on stereotypes.

And please, if you need to protest, do it. You have a right to peaceful protest. But macing someone you don’t agree with, destroying property, spitting on widows, and assaulting people isn’t that. It doesn’t endear those your view – it shuts down any chance for understanding (ie; “why would I even listen to you talk about love when there’s all this hate in your ranks?”) to be found. What will be associated with the view is the terrible things being done, not the message you’re trying to convey.

All this post boils down to is this; please think before you speak (especially  to the Christians, as we are called to imitate Christ, which there’s not a lot of that happening, particularly online), and be willing to listen. Don’t try to silence others, you know you wouldn’t want that to happen to you or any of your loved ones. If you’re willing to talk, please be willing to listen.

Hope this post was enjoyable and leads to some conversation. God bless my friends.

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