They’re my rights too!

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too. ~ Voltaire, from Essay on Tolerance

I am a defender of personal freedoms.  I may not always agree with what you say or how you say it, but I do believe in a world where you’re allowed to express it.  However, with those freedoms comes the responsibility of being accountable for what you say.  As well, I also believe that your freedom to express yourself becomes invalid when it infringes on the personal freedoms of others.  Now, I realize that this leaves a lot of room for gray area, but I believe that there are certain clear cut cases.

Third National Flag of CSAFor example, around the corner from where I live there is a house with a large flagpole in the backyard that displays a flag bearing the ol’ “Stars and Bars” of Confederacy fame.  Specifically, it is the Third National Flag of the Confederate States of America, or the one pictured to the right.  Now, I am not a fan of this person’s display of such a symbol of hatred and bigotry and every time I pass by I imagine how little this person understands the offensiveness of such a flag.  Still, I wouldn’t dare ask this person to remove the flag that obviously means a great deal to them, as it does not affect my freedoms.  I’m free to ignore the flag; I’m free to think this person is an idiot…also, this person has every freedom guaranteed by the flag he/she chooses NOT to fly.  My point is, so long as this person doesn’t try to “resurrect the South” in my neighborhood and reinstitute lynchings as a part of his/her recreational activities, then the flag is fine by me.

Now, on to the actual reason for my post.  Today, at my job, a group of citizens decided to erect a display against genocide.  The display was graphic in its representation and the citizens stood in the rain to hand out pamphlets speaking out against this particular threat to society.  All well and good until you realize that the “genocide” the speak of is abortion.  This is not the first time I’ve been accosted visually by this band of protesters.  They seem to feel that their message of simply speaking and handing out material is no longer effective.  They must shock and disgust you into believing their propaganda.  I did not take a pamphlet; I hurried past the display that was at least 10-15 feet tall and covered a wide swath of ground including its barricade gates.  My point is that the display is an affront to my personal freedoms.  Regardless of how I feel about abortion, I should not be subjected to graphic displays of such.  Yes, I could close my eyes, but that is not efficient or effective.  Not to mention the fact that as abortion is still legal in this country, and genocide isn’t…I’m not sure what they’re on about.  You never see them protesting the death penalty and it’s much more heinous than abortion, while still being technically the same.  Also, genocide generally refers to the killing of a large group of people of a particular ethnic group or nation.  Abortion only VERY loosely follows this definition, so they’re simply skewing the language to spread their propaganda to a wider ill-informed, and possibly more naive, audience.

To summarize, I’m bound by the Constitution of this nation that I call home to allow these weasels to speak their evil and distribute their poison, but I’ll be damned if I think that this should include assaulting me with graphic images that do not inform or create sympathy.  They’re simply there for shock value and it invades my personal freedom.  Feel free to disagree with me and as always, I’m open to competing arguments that take logical and rational form.

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. ~ S.G. Tallentyre (usually attributed to Voltaire)

See you in the funny papers!

17 thoughts on “They’re my rights too!

  1. Interesting post. I tend to agree with you, although, I have a hard time seeing hatred, bigotry and hypocrisy in action and probably would not have comported myself with your class.

    This may very well be a stereotype and I’m just out of touch. If it is, forgive me/educate me. It seems that many anti-choice activists are in favor of the death penalty. That baffles me, considering that the argument against freedom of choice is normally couched in respect for life no matter how great or small.

  2. Lydia…exactly. I, too, find that most Right To Lifers are the same ones calling for more stringent death penalty laws. I don’t know if it’s all of them, but it does seem to be a majority. I’m not sure how they reconcile the two, but if I had to guess I’d say it’s probably based on the Bible. I know, I know…gross generalization, but couched in reality.

    I think I may start an informal poll to see exactly how that works.

  3. “If the first amendment will protect a Scumbag like me, then it will protect all of you . . . ’cause I’m the worst.”

    Larry Flynt

  4. And, I agree with you there John (and Larry), but I think there’s a limit to free speech. When free speech intrudes on my personal space, then it becomes more complicated. And I suggest that there is more gray area here than I’m willing to enter into, but for me, yesterday was beyond the free speech zone.

  5. There are limits to free speech just depends on who the judges are. For example, you cannot shout “fire” in a crowded theatre. I think the biggest case for free speech is Supreme Court Case Chaplinsky vs. New Hamsphire.

    As for the flag…
    In my opinion to fly the Confederate Flag is to fly the flag of the enemy. That flag is a symbol of the Old South that is no longer here. There are no Civil War veterans around anymore but it would be akin to having myparents and other Filipinos who were in the Phillippines during the Japanse occupation of WWII, see the wartime flag of Japan fly here in America!

  6. oh, and I suppose it’s the “stone for a stone” reasoning. However, I think Ghandi (i think?) said it well, “A stone for a stone makes the whole world blind.”

  7. Where I’m from, the stars ‘n bars falls under the rubric of “Heritage,” which is Ignorant Whitey Code for “back when there weren’t so many uppity n*****s and women and it was awesome.” So although I agree that the numbnut fucktards have the right to fly it, I have a pretty violent personal reaction to seeing that flag — good on you for not flinging actual poo at their windows. Grrr.

    In re: the “genocide” “protestors,” again — good on you for your unreactive reaction. Not sure I could’ve maintained so well myself. My sister, unfortunately, is One of Those (I’ve had to hang up the phone when she wouldn’t agree to disagree with me and LET IT DROP). Your post reminds me that I need to inquire as to her views on the death penalty, but her justification for the monomaniacal abortion obsession is that a zygote is a human, God created it and we have no right to “murder” it, and there are no exceptions (rape, incest, gross fetal deformity incompatible with life). And to her, any tactic that stops a “murder” is justified. She cannot be reasoned with, so I’ve stopped trying.

    I think a display such as you witnessed is unconscionable — but I can’t say it doesn’t constitute free speech unless they’re actually harassing passersby (as opposed to putting on their gruesome little pageant for anyone who wants to watch) — a fine distinction, but I think it’s there.

  8. Lydia, interesting point about the Iraqi flag. I suppose I’m less inclined to be upset about the Iraqi flag than I am the Confederate flag. I would recognize it though.

    Gleemonex, I think your last point is valid in that, I suppose their display does constitute free speech as it really isn’t harming anyone. It’s certainly not “fire” in a crowded theater. But, I don’t think they’re winning anyone over to their side. It’s like getting people to vote for flashing lights and crossbars by hitting them with an oncoming train.

    Anyway, I think this is the most I’ve ever gotten out of one post, so I thank everyone. Even you Angie…maybe they are just Dukes of Hazzard fans!

  9. Oh, they’d be downright pissed off. And they wouldn’t have a leg to stand on in my opinion. Actually, less than “no leg” being as Iraq is an actual country and the CSA is a pipe dream.

  10. I enjoyed your post and the associated comments.

    I have no interest in debating the abortion issue, but I do feel there is a flaw in your reasoning. You state that abortion and the death penalty are technically the same. They are not.

    When a child is aborted, an innocent life is taken–it’s not because of anything the child has done. When the death penalty is imposed, it is entirely because of the acts of the person being put to death. They have taken another human life. So, although death is involved in both instances, these acts are nowhere close to moral equivalence.

    My personal approach to the death penalty leans towards opposing it. I think there are valid moral arguments to taking a life. My primary opposition to it, though, is that the governments screws up everything else it touches. The number of death row convictions that have been overturned due to new or re-examined evidence tell me the government is equally inept at carrying out the death penalty.

    By the way, I largely agree with you that many of the anti-abortion protests are over-the-top. They probably are rightly protected under the first amendment, but just because something is legal doesn’t make it right.

  11. I didn’t state something very clearly in my previous comment. What I was trying to say is that there are valid moral arguments to oppose the death penalty based on the fact that it takes a life. There are situations where it may be morally acceptable to take a life–self-defense, a just war–but whether the death penalty qualifies is less black-and-white.

    I’m not sure that is any clearer…

  12. leadingindycator, you had me until you brought up a just war. I don’t know that there is such a thing. However, I agree with your assessment on other points, particularly your views on the moral difference between abortion and execution.

    My post dealt specifically with the “end of life” aspect of both instances, but I would agree that there are certain moral dilemmas associated with both. However, in my travels, I’ve found that many from both sides do not make the distinction and merely claim that the death/life aspect is the definitive argument for either case.

    I appreciate your comments and hope you’ll make the Conspiracy of Happiness a regular read…although, I can’t claim that most posts are as in depth or interesting.

  13. Oh, what a good post and good comments and it’s about the dilemmas of our times.

    First regarding the freedom stops where it infringes the freedom of others.(Voltaire). Just to throw in some thoughts:

    In the US when you a mass murderer and write a book, you can become a millionaire. In France (Voltaire is from there for some who don’t know) when you are a mass murderer and write a book, all the money goes to the victims.

    I guess, it’s all black and white, there is no Grey-Zone. When it seems to be a “Grey-Zone”, one has just to make an huge effort to distinguish all the details.

    In my example that would be, that you have the freedom to write a book and state your view/opinions/etc, but you don’t have the freedom to make in no matter how money.

    In regards to abortion and death penality. Again you can’t mix them and should definitely not assume it’s the same group, even it could be in some cases.

    Abortion and the freedom to choose is way too complicated for each person who has to make that choice. I am not taking the moral aspect into account, as it would gets even more complicated. It’s about their situation in life, how they conceived it and other circumstances.

    On top of it, I am a human male, who am I to talk about it.

    Death penalty is something else and to be honest, I can’t make up my mind. Again it’s what exactly the person has done, is he mentally ill, what are the circumstances etc etc etc. Right you could say that I am going into the “Grey-Zone”, which I stated doesn’t exist, therefore I say a too general law to execute an execution is wrong and each case has to be looked into very deep. Personally I would have no problem executing a person who did multiple kid abuses or home invaders who kill an whole family (as an example). But a women or man who kills in an emotional state their partner, would be not justified to be killed. Life sentence is tougher on them (I am not a lawyer just talking generally).

    And about ‘moral’, what is moral? Some say it’s the root of all evil 😉 It’s like opinions, millions of people, millions of opinions, who am I to judge about the opinions of others?

    And then you can throw into the whole discussion a more ‘Hinduism’ (or similar) approach, as they believe in re-incarnation and you say: “You fucked up this life, now start over again”.

    Slarti out!

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