In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"

Speak Up!

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I am all over this video, which captures the gist of a sticky issue. Freedom of speech means some will take a hit, get their feelings hurt, even re-live traumatic experiences by someone’s words. Better some take the hit than an important freedom for all be jeopardized.

Censorship belongs least on a college campus.

Perhaps we need to project ourselves on to the bloody battle fields and lie among bleeding out bodies of those who fought for that freedom in the American Revolution, or maybe we just need to think about this logically for a moment.

Teaching about human civilizations, i.e., becoming educated, entails learning about the hideous as well as the glorious. Do we stop studying the Civil War because some students identify as Southerners and may be offended by that period in history? Do we forget entire courses like criminal justice in law school because some students come to class as former crime victims? How have we become such boorish cowards that we fear our beliefs and values are so thin that they cannot withstand challenge, fine-tuning or amendment?

The Kentucky City clerk who refuses still to issue same sex marriage licenses even after a court decision denying her “right” not to issue them in accordance with her beliefs is emblematic of this mentality that “it’s my world and everyone else should live according to my rules” mentality–make me comfortable. Get another fucking job if you cannot perform this one in good conscience! Don’t go to college if you are not psychologically prepared to do so, being “triggered” by mocroaggressions.

The Constitution protects free speech. It’s the first amendment, a very brief, uncomplicated, simply worded two lines that most people can read if they are educated beyond the fourth grade. It does not protect sensibilities. I challenge anyone to find that Constitutional protection, not even in the “penumbras” of the Bill of Rights, where the right to privacy was extracted.

While I am a full supporter of sensitivity–mindful of the grand diversity of beliefs and experiences–education, particularly beyond K through 12, just like comfort is not a right, just as any given job is not a right guaranteed by the Constitution. They are privileges. Necessities, but privileges nonetheless, the same as a driver’s license.

Rights vs. privileges: it’s important to know the difference.

Sure, some people will use their words as weapons, spew hate speech, but that is not the speech that is protected under the Constitution, out of which the Supreme Court has carved exceptions. The violation is one of human respect, decency and citizenship, as well as codified laws.

Eleanor Roosevelt, or whomever the sentiment is attributed to, said it best when recalling that no one can insult you without your consent: you know, sticks and stones and all that. Behaviors–like refusing people their legal rights to be married (not to mention be happy) because you happen to be in a position to do just that by your job title–are another matter.

As a civilized, democratic nation, we fight disagreeably offensive speech with more speech, counter and other speech.

First world problems are so wacky, the taken-for-granted privilege of living in a country where the luxury of sensibilities are even considered a topic of discussion. Crazy.

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