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.
For 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!