Freedom of Speech and Censorship.

Posted by Mary Marvella | 9:50 PM | 13 comments »

Freedom of speech gives reach of us the right to say what we think, right? But maybe not to employers and bosses. Maybe not to family members and friends who are sensitive. Using tact is self-preservation.

Of course there are the issues of being politically correct. I don't have the right to say things that slander others or that sound prejudicial about a group of people. Do you feel we go too far in our attempts to avoid accidentally offending others? Have you had someone become upset at something you said innocently? Sometimes I feel we work too hard.

At a baby shower we each got a pacifier on a ribbon. We were instructed to avoid the use of the words "baby" and "cute". If we used either word we lost our pacifier to the first person who heard the slip. Of course some of us collected many pacifiers because some people were quick to catch the slips. Frankly, giving up the pacifier was a relief! Telling me not to use a word will bring that one to my mind often.

Humor has often been cut-down humor that relates to people's backgrounds, race, gender, career, religion, hometowns, sports teams, and more. People can go too far, of course. Mel Gibson and Don Imus are prime examples and Mel was drunk. Some insulting comments are made as the result of anger, while others just pop from people with undersized brains. Should we be held accountable for things we say in private and should goofs be made public? Should people be allowed to follow someone around and invade his or her privacy, just because that person is in the public eye? If a teacher is overheard uttering a word in private or away from the classroom that wouldn't be appropriate at school, should that effect her job?

With the popularity of the internet and the ease of setting up blogs and websites, some folks feel they can say whatever they wish, fact or fiction? Should there be more censorship? What should happen to people who lie about others on websites or blogs? Should newspapers and television announcers be allowed to lie in the form of a question? When you hear or read words like "Did Sharon Stone visit to the XXX clinic because of her eating disorder?", do you hear that she has an eating disorder? Will it matter that the article might mention that she's working out to lose weight or that she hasn't actually lost weight but gained muscle? Does it matter that headlines like that sell papers, get people to listen?

Opinions? More to follow tomorrow, if no one else fills the spot.


  1. Nightingale // April 5, 2008 at 12:47 PM  

    Excellent article, Mary. Thought-provoking. I am definitely of the opinion that politically correct has been stretched to ridiculous. But it is even worse in England. I won't tell you what my son said it was "politically incorrect" to say because then I'd be accused of same.

  2. Beth Trissel // April 7, 2008 at 10:58 AM  

    Very thought provoking, Mary. I reckon as the internet is a public forum, one had best have care for ones words. I'd like to think I can kid around and not have to be quite so tactful elsewhere. But, he would have friends, must show himself to be friendly, as I used to say to my ornery son.

  3. Beth Trissel // April 7, 2008 at 11:01 AM  

    I also want to add that it is lametable indeed that you do not have more comments on this post.
    Is anybody out there in cyberland?
    Speak up!

  4. Mary Barfield // April 7, 2008 at 6:13 PM  

    I thought surely I'd have some reactions, agreeing or disagreeing. Maybe I'd get more reactions by being NON PC. I know people get busy, but I go back and try to read all the posts I've missed. Sometimes I don't know what to say but each of us needs to try to say something about each post, even if it's innocuous.

  5. Donnell // April 7, 2008 at 7:04 PM  

    Wow, Mary, thought provoking indeed. The other day there was a ESPN sports writer who commented about a picture of Le Bron James (one of the most talented NBA basketball stars around and Giselle (a supermodel)after people took offense to Vogue's placement on the magazine calling it racist and offensive. The ESPN author countered saying he didn't understand why the picture was supposed to make him mad. James and other athletes do sport tatoos and do in fact wear tatoos to look threatening. Free speech is a wonderful thing, and guarateed under our constitution. Perhaps we need an amendment to insist people use common sense before being ridiculous:)

  6. Liz L. // April 7, 2008 at 8:38 PM  

    Great blog, Mary. Fow what it's worth, here's my $.02.

    I believe people, no matter what career path they're in (teachers, politicians, nurses, etc,) have a right to say whatever they please in their own homes. However, I believe they are held to a highter standard when it comes to public speaking. I get so angry at the Hollywood people who use their celebrity to insult others, and I'm mad as hell that I have to listen to it when I'm only trying to watch a TV program.
    I think the key word here would be to use common sense. It's okay to have a strong opinion about something, but please don't think it's okay to make everyone listen to you.

    As far as teachers go, I think they are definitly held to a highter standard, mainly because they have so much influence over the children.

    In other words, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I think they need to discretion about when to open their mouths.

    Thanks for this great topic.

  7. Rachel // April 7, 2008 at 8:42 PM  

    Great post, Mary. I'm more a fan of political correctness, but then I'm in a different country (Australia) so perhaps it works differently over here? Though it certainly has its opponents here too.

    I read a great saying years ago that was something like, "Watch your thoughts, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become your character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny."

    I think we as a society are trying to cut off the racist/ sexist/ offensive stuff at the word phase with political correctness?

    I do like Donnell's idea of insisting that people using common sense before being ridiculous. :)

  8. Edie // April 7, 2008 at 9:13 PM  

    Great post, Mary! I agree with Liz L and Rachel. Use commonsense. I never watched or listened to Don Imus, anyway, but Mel Gibson lost my respect with his remarks.

  9. Anonymous // April 7, 2008 at 9:19 PM  

    I agree with Edie about Mel Gibson. For me, it's Tom Cruise that lost me when he went off on Brooke Shields and postpartum depression. I just lost all respect for me.

  10. Karin Tabke // April 7, 2008 at 11:52 PM  

    I believe no one should be put down for their opinions, even if it isn't PC. Is it freedom of speech so long as it's not offensive?
    I find the problem with our society today is the lack of manners, common courtesy, and certainly common sense.

  11. Rachel // April 8, 2008 at 12:20 AM  

    Good point, Karin. I think we need to remember that sometimes it's an unpopular opinion that leads the way to change and the future.

  12. Anna Lucia // April 8, 2008 at 3:39 AM  

    I think I'm with Rachel. Too often, those complaining about being asked to be PC are doing so because they've been pulled up on a racist or offensive comment.

    I've heard lots of people say, "Oh, I don't mean it that way..." I'm not sure unthinking insuolts, or oppressive language, are any better than deliberate ones....

    And there is a LOT of misinformation spread about what is 'acceptable' language and what is not. Drives me potty!

  13. Cindy // April 8, 2008 at 9:31 AM  

    I agree that people need to use common sense before they speak. But I do think the political correctness train is out of control at least here anyway. I'm in another country too. But it drives me crazy that they changed our Christmas party to a winter dance so as not to offend people. What about offending me? And the other people who do celebrate Christmas?