Motivation to open one’s mouth vs. intent to cause harm

There’s a blurred line that’s getting wider by the day between the need to call someone out for committing harm just for the crime of opening their mouth to express an opinion. The freedom of speech was made into to a right for the purpose of protecting a person’s right to say unpopular things. If it was only popular speech that’s allowed we wouldn’t need the constitutional right. Our society is getting too far away from the demand that people grow thicker skins against the words people say. It’s only the actions taken we have a right to judge. This is not to say I agree with what comes out of some people’s mouths but I do respect their right to say it. If I don’t want to hear it, I have the right to walk away.

This being said; I do think a few topics can be looked at from the perspective; speech equtes to action. I don’t think we need to throw people into the snake pit but some aggressive counseling might be needed. I read recently about a female public figure taking heat over social media because she was supporting something important to her. The verbal abuse she took was unwarranted and the speech aimmed at her terrifying. I do not belittle the emotions she experienced but I read, she intends to seek legal action without determining if the words thrown were accompanied by evidence that action was to follow.

We’ve gone backwards as a society if we’re allowed to take action against someone just because we were frightened for a moment by the words they say. We can’t have it both ways. If we say a person has a right to speak, whatever comes out of their mouths; then we can’t become unreasonably responsive just because we don’t like what they have to say. We simply need to be aware if the speech has a serious potential to become action.

I also question the motives of several public figures when they race to the defense of someone who was the target of unfriendly words. Many seek the podium to express on air, their outrage, and demand a person’s life be ripped apart because they said a word. When does the soapbox drama end for the sake of someone’s ability to keep their name in the spotlight vs. the person they seek to victimize because that person expressed their opinion?

It is a sad truth that many of our greatest social issues are kept in the spotlight by those who can’t stand the idea of returning to mediocrity if the issue were allowed to die a natural death by being put on the back burner where it should be. We need to change the focus of importance. We wouldn’t need a library full of laws if we could put things into proper perspective.

It isn’t as important to break people down to subsets then write a mountain of laws to protect each subset. We just need to change how we view the basic laws. Murder is murder regardless of who was killed. How it was done is important for the technicalities of the law and for those whose job it is to determine penalty. The why, is also important for the same reasons. What we don’t need is a thousand people coming out and saying it was worse because the victim was part of a particular subset and the perpetrator another. One person killed another. It doesn’t get worse than that.

Our need to overdramatize kills the very foundation of what the law is meant to do. The law is meant to break things down to the logical and keep emotion out of it. Emotion is what leads to false imprisonment. Emotion leads to people being punished to a greater or lesser degree than the crime warrants. Then there’s the whole concept of punishing people for taking advantage of a right and calling it a crime.

Two people expressing opposing opinions is healthy. The only time it becomes worrisome is one one side or the other is prepared to use a battering ram to run their opinion down the other’ s throat until they change their minds. The process of friendly debate keeps our society running but when someone isn’t willing to say; “It’s possible my opponent is right and it’s possible I’m wrong,” then it has the potential to turn from words into action.

Keep on believing in what’s important to you. Talk about it in an uplifting way to help others see its merits. Credibility in arguments is lost the moment too much emotion is allowed to infect the words. Emotion is a great motivator or a brace to hold you up but it can be a wall you run into at full speed the moment you let it out of your control.

Be wise, speak your minds to your hearts content and chill out about the words people use. The emotions built, to cry foul at the words, may blind you to the real problem coming right behind them.

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