Freedom of speech isn't a free pass to spew hate.
It isn't. You can twist those words into anything you want, but they don't come close to making it alright to vomit hate.
You can dress it up any way you want, but hate is hate.
The sad thing is, the cowards who hide behind The First Amendment lurk in the shadows of anonymity across the Internet. It's very rare you actually know who is saying those God-awful things.
In my opinion, those are the truly dangerous people.
The idiots who get on those cable new shows and yell and scream and turn fifty shades of crimson have one agenda. They want attention. Maybe they weren't hugged enough as kids. Their political affiliations aren't the point. They're just spoiled, bratty children who want attention.
As stomach-churning as most of what they say is, they have a right to say it. They're not doing society any good. They're part of the problem. They're part of the cancer which is eating away at our country and our world but they have a right, as stated in The US Constitution, to say what they want.
They're not the scary ones, though.
The scary ones are the individuals who troll on the internet.
The scary ones are the ones with no faces and who use many different voices and pseudonyms. The scary ones are the hate-filled bigots and blowhards who refuse to take any sort of responsibility for the damage they cause.
It's easy to be brave when you're using a fake name.
To them I say this:
If you truly believe you have the right to say what you feel, no matter how heinous, then step out into the light and speak up. Say it! Let's see how brave you are in daylight? Fully exposed.
What's wrong? Afraid you'll burst into flames?
Shield yourself in The First Amendment.
Wrap yourself in the American flag.
Until there's a change, you do have a right to say what you want. You are protected under The First Amendment.
But know this.
Some speech, especially speech that crosses over into conduct or action is unprotected. The use of a racial slur to threaten or intimidate someone, for example, is not protected by The First Amendment.
A story that made headlines recently concerns Comedian/Actress Leslie Jones.
Twitter users tweeted Jones photos of gorillas.
Jones became the target of comments which bordered dangerously close to harassment.
It wasn't one or two people who attacked Leslie. There was a mob mentality in the hate-filled tweets. The blind leading the blind. The ugly leading the ugly.
It should be said people like this are usually referred to as trolls, and a more appropriate word there never was because these individuals (I'd use the word people but that makes them sound too close to something that resembles human beings) which is such a appropriate description. They are ugly and belong under bridges.
When you are a celebrity, you have to have a tough skin. It's not a business for the easily hurt or offended.
The issue is not whether or not Jones has thick skin. The issue seemed to be more that she had black skin.
The issue wasn't can Leslie Jones take criticism or whether or not she can dish it out and not take it. The issue is that most of the comments aimed at her were racist. Big-lipped coon and ape are ugly words which ooze hate.
One troll in particular, the editor of Breitbart Tech, Milo Yiannopoulos, seemed to have a personal vendetta against the co-star of this summer's Ghostbuster reboot. Tweet after tweet attacked not only Jone's race but her physical appearance. It is alleged this troll also created different accounts posing as Jones to fan the flames.
Yiannopoulos has since been banned from Twitter.
Doesn't mean he or she or it won't be back, crouched in the dark, tapping away angrily on the touchpad of their phone posing as someone else.
Jones herself has been accused of tweeting comments which some deem as controversial. She is a comedian, it must be said, and every comedian has their own voice, their own tone and rhythms. Her voice is in her delivery, just like George Carlin's or Jon Stewart's or Carrot Top's or Bill Burr's.
It has been suggested by some, Jones has repeatedly made derogatory comments about white people.
Derogatory? Hate-filled? Racist?
I don't think so.
I think at first glance Jones' words are inflammatory but consider the source and the truth behind her words.
Leslie Jones is an African-American woman. Her voice is markedly different from mine and the way she expresses herself is different from the way you and I would say the same thing. I can't say the things she says because I haven't been where she has been. Just as she can't speak for me the way I would.
The point is, I'm a 51-year old white male. I wouldn't say what Jones said because I can't and because I shouldn't.
Race has always been a hot topic for comedians and satirists. Exposing the differences between the races is has always been fodder for great material.
Richard Pryor wasn't a racist. He talked about everybody!
As far as the use of profanity, certain words have their place.
If your 20 minute set onstage, though, consists of 11 minutes of just using words like fuck and shit because you didn't do the work to find a smarter word which would have worked better, then you're just lazy.
Jones is a comedian. Certain words are part of her vocabulary. They are part of her personality as a performer, part of the fabric of her character.
I don't know her as a person. I only know what she puts out into the world.
The point is she has the right to say what she wants to say. Her speech, her opinions, are protected by The First Amendment.
The trolls who attacked Leslie Jones used hate speech.
Remember the exception to The First Amendment I mentioned earlier?
The use of a racial slur to threaten or intimidate someone...
There is a difference between the two. I don't think this is a case of double standards.
In most of the tweets exchanged between Jones and the trolls who attacked her, Jones took a defensive stance. Only when she went on the offensive did she come close to crossing the line. Never did she though, in my opinion, come close to violating the First Amendment.
I think she got backed into a corner and came out swinging.
Can we all say we would never do that?
There are some who claim this whole series of events was somehow a publicity tactic to help promote Jones and her new film Ghostbusters.
I can't imagine any actor putting themselves through such a horrible ordeal for the sake of opening weekend ticket sales.
It's a stupid hypothesis created by stupid people.
Which goes back to my original point.
There are a lot of stupid people on the internet and for the most part they can say what they want to say.
Sadly, haters are going to hate and they will continue to do so. Especially when they can hide on-line.
Politics aside, this is a human issue. This isn't about political correctness. This is about social correctness.
When did we get so mean?
When did HATE become in fashion?
When did it become okay to attack so openly and with such an air of entitlement?
I get it. I do.
We're all angry. We're all frustrated.
Is the answer HATE?
Because if it is, then we have to ask the question in another way.
and that's 'Jody' with a 'y'
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