The Prevention of Literature (p. 931)
A friend of mine pointed something out to me regarding freedom of speech that has been tugging at me for a short while. It involved the drama surrounding the Duck Dynasty quote that jarred America. He pointed out that the social upheaval over suspending him from the show was misguided since freedom of speech applies to the government's inability to restrict speech-expressions, not a private company's. A & E is a private company. My friend was right; freedom of speech was not even an applicable argument. The complaints against A & E were widespread, though pretty much revolved around the "network not believing in freedom of speech." It is here that I began to see the tapestry of the Religion of Freedom of Speech.
Since Robertson's a Christian, of course he is going to think homosexuality and beastiality are similar; they are both acts that waste the seeds of creation because they cannot cause reproduction. But that is not what drew my attention. Freedom of speech has become a lightning rod, used in almost any situation when someone even remotely detects another's judgment. However, freedom of speech strictly applies to the government's restriction to suppress individual expression. Our hypersensitivity has bred hyper-application, allowing a legally-nuanced term to become conceptually attached to any self-expression.
The freedom of speech defense is so prevalent in our vernacular that it has progressed past habit, past addiction, and into entitlement. Although I appreciate the ability to write knowing that the government won't come knocking on my door to arrest me, the American population's knee-jerk response to infractions of freedom-of-speech has created an invertebrate relativism that insulates us from seeing and eradicating potentially lethal destructive mechanisms in our personal lives. Thus, the prevalence of the smug, ignorance-advocating statement, "I have a right to my opinion." Big red flag. Since our speech is protected by law from government intervention, we've developed a collective belief that our statements and customs are equally valid, worthy, and reasonable. But just because we can legally speak our minds does not mean we have something substantive to say. Nor does it mean it will not hurt ourselves, or others. For some reason relativism is popularly viewed as peaceful.
Modern philosopher Parker Kristhoffer cuts through the opinion-based destructive mechanisms through what I think of as capture-of-self. Whoever you are in the present time frame is isolated, investigated, and judged as your chosen orientation. Your words represent who you are as much as your actions. Open, unfettered objective evaluation inverts and exposes the flaws of relativism. Having an opinion does not entitle one of express that opinion, however the existence of that opinion is an open invitation for judgment since opinions are perspectives (though subjective) of how we see the world. If someone would have exposed and evaluated our over-application of freedom of speech through this method, the whole Duck Dynasty mess would have been avoided. Yet, this Kristhofferian practice is not advocated by our modern culture, because the culture has practiced adopting others' premises rather than reflecting upon and determining our own, seeding relativism.
Freedom of speech itself is not destructive, however our knee-jerk response in our personal lives is. When my friend pointed out that the freedom of speech critique levied upon Phil Robertson was not applicable, he implicitly initiated the argument directly pointing toward our modern relativism. If Robertson was not believed to have the relativistic "right to his opinion," based on freedom of speech, the focus would have properly been on A & E's right to suspend. Our economy is capitalistic and they are a private company; how again, did the leader of the capitalistic world miss a direct application of capitalism? Because our capitalism is deteriorating at the hands of America's new religion; the Religion of Freedom of Speech. We believe our opinions and assertions all have value because the government is not allowed to intervene. This argument is so far from the truth, it is nearly a joke.
Any scholar of collective mentality--Nietzsche, Freud, Marx, and Kristhoffer has much to say about it as well--sees that in order to be free though, you must free yourself, which entails using reason rather than dissociative relativism. Avoiding judgment is not an exercise of freedom, yet is a form of war, because communication and resolution are avoided. Sure, laws maintain order amongst people, but only because they tell you what you cannot do. And freedom of speech has become just like every other modern religion in that it tells us how we are so special and entitled that no one can so much as whisper a critique of what we say. It is in the Constitution, after all...
If open judgment becomes a common practice, it will no doubt reveal the destructive destiny of relativism and the catch-phrase "I have a right to my opinion." This religion of Freedom of Speech is so expansive that relativism has begun to feel so natural that it is retro-infiltrating our very own laws, and may soon become a formal, legal right. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but when Phil Robertson's freedom of speech was more hotly debated than A & E's right as a private company to suspend him, relativism was strengthened.
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