Thursday, October 25, 2012

Two Sides of a Thin Coin

Freedom of speech.
Political correctness.

Two phrases we all have heard.  Maybe they are two phrases we love to hate... or hate to love.  We use these phrases like we have a right to pass judgement on anyone who speaks their mind, like we have any right to.  What do these phrases really mean?  I tend to believe they are opposites.  But not really.  There is actually a very fine line that separate the two.  Let me delve into my perception of definition of these "words of wisdom".

Freedom of Speech:

Wikipedia defines Freedom of Speech as:  the political right to communicate one's opinions and ideas. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.
The right to freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the ICCPR states that "[e]veryone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference" and "everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice". Article 19 goes on to say that the exercise of these rights carries "special duties and responsibilities" and may "therefore be subject to certain restrictions" when necessary "[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others" or "[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals".

We have all heard (and repeated) "What happened to Freedom of Speech?"

Now, let's take a look at the Wiki Definition of Political Correctness...

Political Correctness:  a term which denotes language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, certain other religions, beliefs or ideologies, disability, and age-related contexts, and, as purported by the term, doing so to an excessive extent. In current usage, the term is primarily pejorative,while the term politically incorrect has been used as an implicitly positive self-description. Examples of the latter include the conservative The Politically Incorrect Guide published by Regnery Publishing and the television talk showPolitically Incorrect. In these cases, the term politically incorrect connotes language, ideas, and behavior unconstrained by a perceived orthodoxy or by concerns about offending or expressing bias regarding various groups of people.

So.... my question begins with how can one speak their mind and then be driven into solace with accusatory statements regarding political correctness?  If one speaks their mind... voices their opinion, and someone (anyone) takes offense to it, who's fault is that?  Is it the speaker, themselves, who is to blame for someone else being overly sensitive to a remark that wasn't directed towards a particular individual?  

We have an OPINION page in our local newspaper, in USA today, in my own beloved Leaven...  how can one person who isn't nearly as influencial as the writers for those columns be beaten down because of them voicing THEIR opinion?  Again, who are WE to judge anyone?  My faith tells me, in my heart, that WE must learn NOT to judge.

My friend, someone who has been very important to my growth as a human being and a faithful follower of Christ, has many obstacles surrounding her that she must defend on nearly a daily basis.  This is simply because she was called to serve our greater power.  She has defended her children MANY times, she has been a significant cog in a wheel of change for, not only our community, but our country.  She has suffered loss, a loss that a mother must crawl out of the depths of the quicksands of dispair to carry on.  She has grown, as we all hope we would, into a light for our world.  An inspiration to make the world a better place. However, in this journey, her strength she has found as a voice for some who choose not to speak, because it may ruffle feathers.  She has been called upon to be that voice and make a change for things that aren't right.  But, when this dear friend gets admonished for her thoughts, for her written words.... it makes me sad.  She has never once named names, or spoken in defamatory ways.  She simply questions the way somethings are done.  She has been an advocate for her children, and been torn down for it.  The minute someone tears me down for being an advocate for MY children will be a day that I hope they never forget.  

When someone finds their strength, through an outlet such as a blog, or facebook even... and then that strength is stripped away because someone felt it wasn't "politically correct", how is that fair?  Maybe this person hasn't ever known the strength to speak their mind before.  Myabe, through technology, it's made this strength possible.  I know I always speak better through the written word than the spoken word, so possibly this is the strength this person needs to move on from the hurt or the anger or the confusion.  Those of us who enjoy her written word applaud her voice, we celebrate her hunger for understanding of this PC world.  I, for one, share her appreciation for our PC world, but not at the expense of freedom of speech.  When you live a life that is not shared by others, you DO see the terms that hurt.  Those phrases, that others let spill from their mouths before they actually think about what they are saying or who they are saying them too.  But I have learned to not be overly sensitive, because I do believe that the majority of the human race IS good natured.  I believe that most of us DO care if we hurt others by our words.  I believe that some of us stay awake at night going through the days events in our heads, wondering if we could have said something different, wondered if that look on that person's face reflected our specific actions or words, wondered if we could have done anything different to make the day or that specific interaction different.  My goals at the end of the day are two things:  1)  Make sure my children and my husband know I love them more than anything in the world.  2)  Hope I made a difference in someone's life.  

We are all put here for a purpose.  I sincerely believe we all put here to experience diversity and learn from it, and counsel others through it.  We learn from our experiences, we all bear our crosses... we have all been given the strength to endure and prosper.  It's up to us to accept that gift.  It's up to us to recognize our deficiencies as humans, and learn from them.  It's our duty to share our gift with others.

My friend, you have taught me so much.  I am distraught at the thought that you lost your mojo.  I hope that I can be one of many who rekindle that flame.  Do NOT be ashamed of who you are or what you say.  Keep writing, you said it yourself you have been partner to change because of your voice.  Being a strong woman does not mean you are a bitch, it's setting an example for those of us who strive to find that strength.  

Ending thought:

Being Politically Correct should not interfere with our Freedom of Speech.  Obviously, there is a line that can be crossed and then I feel fully entiled to judge.  (I'll confess about that later)  Some people just don't have a filter and maybe they actually intend to hurt feelings, but I strive to surround myself with those who do care and who do try to be sensitive... without being fake.

1 comment:

  1. Have I ever told you how much I love the person you choose to be. Thank you for being a strong voice and driving force in my journey!