Freedom of Speech?

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I’ve been on holiday this week, but at home. My week has consisted of a little bit of studying, catching up on reading, and watching a few movies. This morning I watched Shut Up & Sing, a documentary following some of the fallout and aftermath of a comment about GW Bush made by one of the Dixie Chicks on stage in London, England. The comment was: “we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas”. The movie got me thinking about the whole issue of freedom of speech and how often our mouths can get us in trouble.

Freedom of speech can be defined as;

“the concept of the inherent human right to voice one’s opinion publicly without fear of censorship or punishment. ‘Speech’ is not limited to public speaking and is generally taken to include other forms of expression. The right is preserved in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is granted formal recognition by the laws of most nations. Nonetheless the degree to which the right is upheld in practice varies greatly from one nation to another.”

Unfortunately, the Dixie Chicks discovered that exercising this at certain times and in certain ways can prove costly, although in the end they had every right to be ashamed of their President in light of what followed.

Even with having the right of free speech, one has to be careful as to how it is exercised. A number of people have found out to their personal detriment that there are times when it is better to say or write nothing. The internet has given many people a platform for their views and ideas, but one has to be careful what they write or share, because once the send or publish button is used there is no turning back. People have lost their jobs because they forgot who may be looking in on their thoughts or ideas.

Sometimes there are things I really want to write about or share, but I have come to the realization that now is not the time. I try to be cryptic or evasive sometimes because I need to keep a roof over our heads. It’s never wise to bite the hand that feeds. Some private conversations need to remain that way.

The time will (hopefully) come when I will be able to share some of these conversations in a more public fashion. Some of my close friends and family will know what I am talking about. Until then I am exercising my freedom of speech by saying nothing.

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