Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Free Speech can Kill

There are certain comments which, over the past couple of Years have gotten under my skin.  Thankfully, we mostly still Have the right of free speech, and for this I am very Glad.  It is Odd though, to have grown up in the 1960's and see that on our local college campus there are certain spaces Marked Out as "Free Speech Zones".  Why is Free Speech guaranteed to talk show hosts but maybe Not to College Students?  College campuses used to BE "free speech zzones".
I  haven't agreed with everything President Obama has done.  But I really dislike some of the racial slurs which have been thrown at him.  One night I was spinning the radio dial and heard someone call President Obama a "Halfrican".  Ok, so he's a grown man and anybody who runs for president should expect some name calling.  But this Wasn't a slur about his politics, or Even whether or not he was an American citizen.  It was purely a racial slur.  Has thriving on hatefulness really gone this far?  This radio show was nationwide and the host was quotint Another radio show host.

I don't usually like talk radio, "conservative" or "liberal".  The reason is that it inspires a misperception of someone else's views, and we need to remember that there are always people who, because of mental illness or extreme stress are willing to take violent action.  I believe that what I think of as "hate radio" has done and can do serious damage to our society as a whole, and, of course, to individuals.
Who has the right to name a doctor performing abortions, post his/her address online, and claim that This person has no rght to live?  Can the Obama children be sheltered from all of the purely racial slurs thrown at Both of their parents?  Have you ever heard of Another First Lady portrayed online with a Monkey's face?  Let's see, First Lady Laura Bush, First Lady Nancy Ragan, First Lady Hilary Clinton, First Lady Barbsara Bush?  Mrs. Clinton was called a lot of unnecessary  names when she attempted to begin a discussion about healthcare and its lack in our country.  But it's never been Quite this nasty before.

We rightly comdemn terrorism, but we can name people who we think should be "taken out" (a military term for killed) in the name of free speech.  ho can give back the lives "taken out" by careless words falling into the ears of mentally ill or temporarily enraged people?  Since lives can't be returned to the dead, shouldn't we be more careful with our words and images?  Where does inspiring harm, hurt, or murder with words, knowing that someone Just Might follow a suggestion, fit between Free Speech and partial Responsibility for the harm or murder/s?

I have often wondered what listening to "talk radio" on a regular basis Does to a person.  Does it Vent rage and frustration, so a person can continue working a job they hate, or be kinder to he family at day's end?  Or does it Ramp Up rage?  I wish some scientists would study this.  At least then people could know if they were or were not doing their bodies, minds, and relationships harm or good when they choose to listen to this programming.  Have any such stu
been conducted on this subject?  What are the factors which make talk radio so popular?  Are we really All That Angry?  If so, we have the right to say it.  But when we don't know whose listening over the air waves or watching online, I think we ought to say it more honestly and carefully. 

I feel angry when President Obama is called a "Halfrican" because I am a person of mixed race and know what a diet of constant name calling can do to a person's heart and will to try.
I feel frightened when someone uses military terms for killing against a civilian, because someone might Do It.  I felt shocked and amazed at the courage of Cher, when I was a kid because she actually Recorded a song called "Halfbreed".  Those are three examples of words which could be spoken in a Very Strong Voice.  Why is name calling so Cool?
What people say to one another in private is Their business!  What all of us say in public is Everybody's.

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