As 2013 moves into the past, I often recall some of the more annoying topics that inhibited the general zeitgeist of the past twelve months. One such topic, the right to free speech or should I say the privilege of free speech, was intensely debated as a slew of loose tongue celebrities fell victim to the accidental racist or homophobic rant. Alright, maybe not a slew of celebrities, but Paula Dean & Phil Robertson both ignited firestorms in the media with a few offensive words that eventually led to their dismissal from their employers. (Both we’re eventually rehired, but that still does not undermine my overall point) Of course, this led to a slew (an actual slew) of citizens defending each of the aforementioned for being unjustly terminated since their right to free speech under the first amendment was outright violated. Solidarity for the defense of amendment #1 was especially rampant in the realm of social media.
Now, in America, you can say whatever you want under the umbrella of the first amendment without the fear of arrest or persecution by the government. Here’s the original text:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.“
However, that is our government and NOT our private employers. If you don’t believe me, perform one of the tasks below next Monday when you get in the office.
I could go on for days coming up with colorful examples of wielding your quote on quote amendment uno, but the truth is, you would probably be fired or at least disciplined for all of the items above, and I would imagine given the severity of sexual harassment, you could be prosecuted and face incarceration, so in essence, prosecution by our gov’t. may not be entirely out of the scope of a loose tongue.
Here’s the lesson to take from all this. If you’re in front of a TV camera or a keyboard, your first amendment is broadcast to the world. Whether your hosting a reality show or just slinging the BS with friends on twitter, what you say is well documented in every tangible sense. Although I am a firm believer that who you are is much broader than the words you say, it takes less time for people to hear you than to know you. So for 2014, give the time to think about what you say in public or post on social media. Save the racism, homophobia, sexism for the walls of you own abode. Better yet, your kids live there, so don’t say it all.