As part of the 1st amendment, freedom of speech stands as a core right in most democracies. It’s executed slightly differently in every democratic country but I’ll focus on the USA for my rant.
The original text (in a nod to the very venerable asshole Neil Gorsuch – I wonder if he would be as keen to be an originalist on medical knowledge):
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
My focus will be on the first half. A lot of idiots in America today (well that doesn’t really narrow it down much) believe that freedom of speech means a person has the right to say anything they want to anyone they want in any place they want.
If their job fires them for posting an invite to their KKK family values picnic, they scream their first amendment rights are being violated. The first amendment, in settled law, does not protect a person’s right to say what they want to say always and wherever. The most commonly mistaken interpretation is the one I’ve just illustrated which is believing that a private enterprise has any obligation to allow you to speak in any manner you want. Idiots: it does not.
You can also not defame someone in public as if you are stating a fact. It would be cool, for example, to call me a fat bald man because I am demonstrably those 3 things. They are facts. It would not be cool to write an article that stated I defrauded Enron and that’s why they collapsed. I’ve only been to Texas once and I don’t know anything about corporate fraud (well I don’t know anything about defrauding a company ; just the other way around).
You also can’t make threats against the president. Or you’ll get a really fun visit from the secret service. You can say you feel the President is a repugnant piece of SHIT. Because that’s not a threat and frankly it’s also the truth.
You also can’t famously yell “fire” in a crowded theater because if there is no fire just because you feel like being a dick because people could get seriously hurt for no good reason. There’s probably a more eloquent legal reason for that but I’m not a lawyer and I’m sure as Hell not interested in looking up the legal prose.
So why am I bringing this up? Well I have curtailed my personal speech recently because of the advice of two people who are smarter than me and who were looking out for me. They made the same very sensible argument: make your blog private or don’t ever comment on work related things or even things that are too weird or dark because many companies and organizations nowadays conduct research on a prospective employee’s social media presence. They don’t wanna hire a neo-nazi, sexual harasser, bigot or someone who is prone to violence and owns firearms (man that was wordy ; I really could have just said “Republican”).
And since corporations are people, too, I certainly don’t begrudge them the right to choose whoever they want to hang out with and pay.
But after coming out of my own personal hell, I see things differently now. My dreams of being rich and famous will never go away. American pop culture embedded so far into my psyche that they sprouted fields and fields of unrealistic expectations all over my soul. Luckily I have no marketable skills or other skills that would achieve either of those goals so I’ve decided I’m just gonna adjust the goal.
All I want from life now is the company of the people I like and love, a one bedroom apartment in an area I kind of like, decent health and maybe the odd vacation once a year or once every two years. Oh, and high speed Internet. I’m not trying to be the Buddha and reach nirvana. I just want access to digital content and/porn.
I’m fairly certain the kind of jobs that could achieve my life goal don’t need to sniff out my social media history. I will never be testifying in a confirmation hearing. I will never be taking a polygraph test as part of an interview. The word “clearance” isn’t going to appear in my resume.
And I am honestly a-ok with that.
I know some of you will call me naive and foolish. And some will say eventually EVERY job will mine your social media presence so I’ll have to play ball. Uh – uh – uh! Not so fast. I’m done tap dancing for Assholes.
I’m making arrangements to keep my voice completely free and, if need be, feed the American employment system happy and well fed.
I’ll give the monster what it wants. But I’m not going to give it my soul.
See, I’ve always had crazy bad problems with money. I think or used to think that I would be a very happy “rich” person and even now I think I’d be pretty psyched if money wasn’t such a big thing for me and I could buy more comic books and go out to eat more.
Those would be cool things. But they are not as important as they were before my mental collapse. What’s important to me now is being happy and authentic and being able to spend time with the people who are important to me.
I’m not saying those doing well in the American employment system can’t be authentic. Not at all! I just know I have to type what I want to type (with the obvious prohibitions listed above excluded) and I won’t trade that for 30 pieces of silver.
So if you thought my blog was weird and inappropriate before, HOLD ON TO YOUR BUTTS!
Not only are the gloves coming off, I’m gnawing my hands off and drop licking them into the nearest Catholic Church.
I do want to marvel for one sec at corporate America. They are masters of our universe. To ALLOW us 99% to enter their hallowed salt mines, they took social media that was at one point exclusive and “cool” (yes young tweens, there was a time when even Facebook was cool) and turned it into something that is ubiquitous and decidedly uncool. (For the record, I’m decidedly uncool and I’m cool with that and with typing the word “cool” apparently).
It’s only the latest thing corporate America has co-opted. Did you know that Citizens United was really just the latest in an almost 150 year campaign by corporations to acquire rights originally intended for citizens? You think Citizens United is bad? How immoral do you think utilizing the 14th amendment, intended to partially redress unspeakable crimes committed to a horrifically oppressed minority, and twisting its logic to grab rights that corporations were never intended to have? Even the king of evil, the Roman Catholic Church, would blush at that accomplishment.
So I will
As Edward Furlong’s character says in American History X, “Derek says it’s always good to end a paper with a quote. He says someone else has already said it best. So if you can’t top it, steal from them and go out strong. So I picked a guy I thought you’d like. ‘We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.’”
A Republican said that, btw. But some of them had souls back in the day.
So here’s my closer (one of my heroes) on free speech:
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum—even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.” Noam Chomsky