Recently, I read an article about JK Rowling defending Donald Drumpf’s freedom of speech. She was speaking at Pen America’s annual literary Gala in New York this past May.
She stated, “If you seek the removal of freedoms from an opponent simply on the grounds that they have offended you, you have crossed a line to stand alongside tyrants who imprison, torture and kill on exactly the same justifications.”
Rowling is a “fierce opponent of censorship.” She claims that curtailing Drumpf’s right to speak diminishes her own “freedom to call him a bigot.”
However, I disagree. Freedom of speech never gives licence to be “offensive and bigoted.” I believe in freedom of speech, but I also believe in the intrinsic value of human life. And when the two values of freedom of speech and human life conflict human life always trumps.
I disagree with Drumpf. I strongly oppose Drumpf’smisogyny, racism, and violent propensities. Yes, according to the bill of rights we have the freedom of speech, press, religion and petition, but we also have the Declaration of Independence where “all men are created equal.” Freedom of speech is given in the context of a government that secures our unalienable Rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Drumpf does not see all men as equal. Watch the poem he read in March, snake poem. Just listen to him speak.
I want to believe America will be better again. And the desire to better our country is not a bad desire. But good intentions are not enough. Drumpf’s rise in popularity are symptoms of societal dysfunction; something is very wrong.
I can see why so many people are drawn to him, because they are unhappy. Just as so many in the UK voted to leave the EU. People are not satisfied. People are scared. People want America to be great again. But if that means hurting and demeaning others, that is not greatness.Building a wall around the US, berating those who are non-white, bullying your enemies, etc. these are not ways to greatness. Racism shall not be tolerated.
How did the Nazis come to power? They were voted in legally by the masses. Why did Corrie and Betsie Ten Boom go to jail? For loving Jewish people. Hitler’s government legalized genocide and punished common acts of humanity. Hitler’s radical ethnocentrism attracted many people including churchgoers. They wanted a scapegoat. They wanted a hero. Does freedom of speech mean we tolerate fascism? I think not Ms. Rowling.
Freedom of Economics
While teaching at a high school I had a co worker who was an adamant supporter of a free capitalist economy. He was sure that everything would balance out in the end if there were no limits or government policing. Once again I disagree. Business done without ethics is dangerous. We’ve seen the atrocities of fraudulent companies like Enron where they stole from their employees and tried to bail themselves out. We need a government to ensure security. We need public accountability. A free capitalist economy is good, but there must be safeguards and accountability.
Freedom of Media
Another friend I have shared about watching the Superbowl one year. At the half time show, Justin Timberlake ripped off Janet Jackson’s top with his teeth. Throughout the whole event beer and breasts were advertised and there were commercials about erectile dysfunction.Yes, there is freedom of media, but there are also other values that must be taken into account. The value of respect and dignity for women must be present. Women are not commodities to be objectified and sold. Woman are human too. Freedom of media and press is good, but there must be boundaries and an agreed on set of human rights and morals.
Is Human Nature Good or Evil?
Freedom is vital, but it is not the only factor in decisions we make. Freedom can create hell on earth because human nature is not innocent. Malcolm Muggeridge wrote, “The depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable reality but at the same time the most intellectually resisted fact.”
There are many people who believe that man is good deep down. If you believe that then of course complete freedom is acceptable. But I’ve personally seen too much war and violence to hold that view. Giving humanity the benefit of the doubt is a luxury that I can no longer afford.
I believe in the freedom of speech, but I also believe in the depravity of man. Sin is very real and we must be aware of it. Drumpf’s rhetoric breeds racism and hate. It envisions the flourishing of white American males and not anyone else. However at this time in history is this the kind of country we will be? Will we vote in and support and egocentric ethnocentric selfish macho man?
Not all ideas are created equally.
And not all messages should be propagated and tolerated.
What about you? What do you think freedom of speech entails? What do you think of the US’s current presidential candidates? How do you read the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution? What do you think of the root of human nature? What do you think about universal human rights and global ethics? How would you respond?