As the world becomes increasingly global in its reach and connections, it also becomes increasingly politically correct. So much so, that what used to pass for common conversation is now a little dicey. Where we didn’t used to think too much about saying something, an opinion, a thought, even certain words – now it gives us pause. Am I using hate speech? Is that an epithat? Was that a racial slur? Is my religion racist? These and other thoughts can easily zip through our minds as our mouths are held agape – thoughts in mid-air and maybe never to be launched verbally for the world at large to hear.
Television, the newspapers, magazines, even movies and popular music have all ‘softened’ become more and more homogenized and bland, all in the quest of saying the right thing. While we are madly engaged in a game of leveling the playing field, playing fair, not discriminating, being democratic, etc., etc., until we are absolutely dizzy with confusion as to what we can or cannot say to whom we can or cannot say it. Funny, just that statement alone made me think of a history lesson centering on Nazi Germany…and the KGB… I digress.
While I cannot speak for other countries that I do not live in, nor have I ever lived in, I can say that in the United States we have a thing called the Constitution and within it, The Bill of Rights (technically considered to be the first ten amendments ratified in 1791 of the Constitution) which in part, entitles American citizens to free speech. Although many people misunderstand that to mean that they can say absolutely anything under the sun, the spirit of the amendment centers around free political speech. And too, it is a direction to the Congress (our law makers) that they may make no law that would prohibit such free speech. It does not include what one may or may not say on someone’s blog or website, etc. However, still there is much leeway given on this particular right and it is extended to the media (freedom of the press as it is commonly known) as a group, not a special group as they are comprised of the citizenry, so that short of starting a riot, or inciting someone to harm another, it is protected.
Though in practice it is getting short shrift – so much so that newspapers and conventional media outlets seem ruled more by their own ideology than the truth or even a strong opinion. More and more, politically and socially we are being bound and gagged in our efforts to express ourselves and say what we think. I suppose if the pc police had had their way we’d all be reading our daily talking points on what we could or could not say on a weekly basis.
However, along came the internet and specifically bloggers. Despite the many attempts to muzzle, control and legislate the internet and the voices represented there, most attempts at doing so have been thwarted. People started to like the idea that there was a place that they could go and actually speak their minds, without regard to hurting someone’s feelings, being offensive or upsetting someone with the truth. In fact, a Pew Research study showed that an increasing percentage of people now get their news on the internet, particularly those in the thirty and under crowd. There must be a reason, right? Perhaps it is because there are fewer filters, perhaps because there is a certain anonymity and fear of reprisel is less or perhaps it is just a way for an overly pressured and somewhat oppressed society to seek the truth without being told what to think about it.
So here’s some truth for you, at least as far as I’m concerned – words are not things. They cannot and will not in and of themselves hurt you. Words are simply the vehicle by which we express ideas, thoughts and hopes. They are the representation of concepts. And they do mean things. Words do have their own meanings, one word can and does hold more weight than another. There are hundreds of thousands of words, there is a reason for that, they mean different things. They do not all mean the same thing more or less. They can be used to express love, hatred, contempt, joy, bias, understanding, reasoning, insanity and on and on. And as long as there are people out there who understand this, there will be people who will have ideas. Ideas that will become realities that will help and improve lives – but also ideas that can create realities that result in harm. It is a mixed bag but we live with this knowledge and have since humans began to talk to each other.
I’m afraid there are a lot of people out there who would rather we didn’t know this. And that we should reduce our vocabularies to 400-500 words most of which resulted in submission, not fairness, enslavement, not kindness or humanity and their motive is simply and only power. And it galls them, folks, that they can’t get to us. For some reason, they cannot pull the reins in on the internet and bloggers. And while many may think that blogging and bloggers are just so much nonsense or silly play I beg to differ. I believe that we are the surviving truth seekers out there. We want to say what we think, we want to read what others think, we want to know the truth and to write the truth. And while the title for this piece may seem a bit presumptious, I have come to think more and more that it isn’t at all. We may be the last stronghold on free speech.
Something to think about, isn’t it?