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Understanding “Free Speach” Rights

Use Email Etiquette and don't be a keyboard warrior!

Next week here in the USA is Independence Day on July 4th and I will not be sending out a weekly post. When I noticed the date, irony kicked in due to some email communications I’ve recently experienced about freedom of speech.

Free Speech and Discretion

Oh how bold we are when safely hiding behind these screens! Who hasn’t experienced how accusatory, rude, darned arrogant and belligerent some can be? These type of communicators are referred to as “keyboard warriors”.

Noun. keyboard warrior (plural keyboard warriors) (informal, derogatory) A person who behaves aggressively and/or in an inflammatory manner in online text-based discussion media, but at the same time does not behave similarly in real life, potentially due to cowardice, introversion or shyness.

Over the last month I have received several accusatory, inflammatory and insulting emails from those who did not like something I have written about on this site. They don’t know me but that didn’t stop them from insinuating that they knew me well enough to know my motivations and what I “really meant.”

What was clear is that they didn’t read the articles in question in their entirety. Rather than share why they disagreed with what they implied was written, they threatened and name-called. (These emails make it clear I still have my work cut out for me.)

I’m wondering if some frustrated onliner sent them to my articles as a way of enlightening them. Then, let’s kill the messenger.

Feel Good; Not Bad

When folks approach me in this manner, I know I have hit a nerve by somehow making them feel bad about something they did incorrectly. My intent is not to make anyone feel bad; but to inform.

Rather than be smart and understand that we all have things to learn (as long as we’re alive BTW) they jump to email me with verbiage I know they wouldn’t dare say to my face. Humility never kicks in.

You can go through any one of my sites and not find anything that is not based in experience. Not one single word that is personally targeted at any individual. That said, I don’t mince words either. (Are they reading my site in their safe place?)

My Free Speech, My Free Speech

When corrected, the “I have the right to free speach” (Yes, one emailer in particular didn’t even spell speech correctly!) claim is used without even understanding the true meaning. As though that statement alone is an excuse to type and say what one wants without consideration.

So, let’s address the right to free speech shall we? Thanks to our wonderful schools, I am in the position on a pretty regular basis of explaining to uninformed emailers what the right of free speech as offered by our Constitution really entails.

The United States Constitution

I’m in the United States, so our Constitution is my reference and what applies to me and every single person located here.

FIRST AMENDMENT: 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.

Simply put what the Constitution says is that the GOVERNMENT cannot interfere with your free speech. It doesn’t mean you can email anyone anything you like and not expect there to be repercussions, consequences — or a negative reaction — because of your freedom of speech.

It also doesn’t mean you can threaten anyone, in any way, because you are free to type those words. Tell law enforcement that when they knock on your door.

Forward your friends political commentary they don’t appreciate and you’ll hear just that from them. Email strangers you don’t know with your opinions about something you disagree with without considering context or mature discourse and you risk looking ignorant and contentious.

But hey, you have your “free speach.”

Mature Adults Communicate

They don’t assume, accuse, attack or insult.

When you have a difference of opinion, first, take a deep breath. Then when you do type out your message, always be sure to reference what you disagree with and state your points without threats, name-calling or arrogant diatribe.

Mature adults agree to disagree.

Otherwise, know that folks like me who get email from folks like that, just shake our heads right before we hit the Delete button.

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