UNITED STATES—Radio hosts, television hosts, news personalities, everyday people, what do they all have in common? The right to freedom of speech, but it’s a right that is being carefully watched in the public sphere. When is it okay to say some things, and when is it okay to keep those opinions to yourself.
This entire notion of freedom of speech is being taken one step to far. While in all due legality we do have the right to say what we want when we want, it’s doesn’t necessarily hold true in the public sphere. Certain commentary can get public officials and public figures into huge trouble.
The recent news of NBA star Jason Collins coming out of the closet was a media sphere that had many praising his courageous and then others stating their personal opinions on the issue. The backlash that some received was enough to make them want to keep their commentary to themselves or more importantly a public lashing where they learned their lesson. There are tons of incidents that I can highlight where such infamy has taken place, but this isn’t an issue about whether it was right or wrong. This is a discussion about not voicing your commentary in the public sphere.
Some would say why not? Because with all due respect most people don’t care, but it seems media outlets are hell bent on getting the public involved in such controversial issues by posting their comments on Twitter or Facebook and there’s a big problem with that in my opinion. For starters, some people release some of the most insensitive, crude and racist comments that a person can imagine.
That’s the problem as I’ve stated before with the social media outlet, it’s a forum to voice your opinion without backlash, but to me it’s a cope out. A lot of the comments that people release both public and private figures are protected to some degree. There is no actual face-to-face or telephone interaction in most cases, but ask yourself this question: Would the person release such hateful, crude and insensitive commentary if a photo of themselves, a phone number, a mailing address and email address was included with the post.
I would say about 99% of Americans would stray away from that notion. And why is that? You’ll hear the countless pundits argue an invasion of privacy is taking place. My response to that would be: “If you’re willing to rattle the cages with such decisive commentary you shouldn’t be afraid of the repercussions.” People tend to think twice about what they say when they understand to some degree their comments have repercussions.
It happened to famed radio personality Don Imas who lost his job after some insensitive comments he made about a female college basketball team. Its not that the public is waiting and willing to attack anyone who fails to realize the impact of their commentary, it’s the fact that the individual is willing to do so thinking there is no consequences for such foolery.
The goal is not to censor freedom of speech because let’s face it, you can’t. The issue at hand is to make the American public aware that harsh words do have an impact on people. You may not think it affects you, but it does. It fuels a media frenzy, it causes uproar, but more importantly it promotes IGNORANCE! We live in a country where the Declaration of Independence states: All Men Are Created Equal. I have just one problem with that statement. Unfortunately, while we believe that statement to be true, we fail to enforce it for all individuals.
By Trevor Roberts