11/30/16

The first amendment

There has been a lot of talk bandied about lately, about 'freedom of speech' and how we have the right to pretty much say whatever want, whenever we want.

This seems to be particularly true when it comes to defending the right of any Tom, Dick, or Harriet to post whatever he or she wants on social media, particularly FaceBook.

And woe unto anyone who challenges that 'free expression.' Any disagreement is seen as an 'attack' on the original poster.

It doesn't work that way.

First, there is not an absolute right to say whatever you want, whenever you want. The tried and true example of that is the person who screams 'Fire!' in a crowded theater, when there is no fire. Another example is making comments about killing the president. If you don't think so, try it, and let's see how long it takes for the Secret Service to show up and give you a civics lesson.

Second, 'freedom of speech' is a double-edged sword.

Yes, you can post almost anything you want ... but when you do, don't get yourself into a hissy fit when someone else takes you to task for it. If you can express your views, using 'freedom of speech' as your cover ... so can everyone else. This is especially true when FB buddies post links to all the false 'news' stories that are swamping social media like sewage from a stopped up septic tank. People post the most outrageous nonsense, which then floods everyone else's (on the 'buddy list') timelines. Then you have a few choices. Ignore it, which can be construed to mean agreement; block that particular person's posts on your timeline; unfriend that person, often taken as a virtual slap across the chops; respond to it with a counterargument. On that last, it makes no difference if you offer a reasoned disagreement or a witless insult; the original poster will see it as a personal attack.

Trump is discovering that 'doubled-edged' sword aspect. He gets his panties in a wad every time the New York Times, WaPo, or CNN post an article he doesn't like. He has actually gone so far as to threaten to use the power of the presidency to retaliate.

“With me, they’re not protected, because I’m not like other people...We’re gonna...have people sue you like you never get sued before.”

I believe our president-elect could use a civics lesson himself.

Trump, and other elected officials, offer windows into their minds and mindset with their public scribblings. They can do that. It's their right to do so.

It is also the right of We the People to comment, quite freely, as to what we think about the mindsets exposed by those public scribblings. Sometimes, quite often, in fact, it may not be flattering or complementary.

In the cerebral toxic dump that is FaceBook. disagreement rapidly descends to what I call 'Jerry Springer' levels. No smarts, no reasoned discussion, no brains at all. Ignorant screamfests and name-calling.

The proper term for this is "ad hominem attack."

That means that rather than attacking the idea, the person is attacked.

"You're an idiot."

"You are pro-choice. You must be a stupid libtard."

"You support gay marriage. You must be a faggot."

That sort of thing.

Here is a website that lists all the types of fallacious arguments:

The Nizkor Project: Fallacies