Now that that is out of the way, I can make my actual point: what freedom of speech actually is.
Also, and this is not the point of this post, but rape jokes are not funny or edgy. They’re intimidating to people who have experienced rape and normalize rape. If I made a joke about kicking your dog in the face until it yelped uncontrollable and submitted to my face kicking, would you laugh? Even writing that makes me sad. I had to make sure no one was kicking my dog in the face. (He’s happily cuddled up with a toy, probably dreaming about chasing squirrels made of bacon.)
(I hope this adorable picture of my dog makes up for the previous mental image.)
Back to the point.
Every time someone gets told they’re not funny, they’re wrong, their argument makes no sense, or has a simple counterpoint made against them they start to cry “you’re impinging on my freedom of speech!” And they are wrong.
Freedom of speech, to me, means that you have the right to express any opinion, to state any information (save purposefully deceitful, malicious statements or intended to, and likely will, induced mass human suffering), and essentially to express yourself in any reasonable safe way that does no harm to others. I don’t think this needs to be extrapolated in the idea that like, if I say someone should bludgeon Mitt Romney with a cane, and someone later does, that’s not on me. People still take responsibility for their own actions. Would I feel bad if someone heard me say that and then did. Probably. I’d be like, “woah dude, that was not supposed to be interpreted literally, check yourself.” But the truth is, if that person was so influence by me making a simple statement, he would have been equally inspired by any other comment anyone else said. **This line gets blurry when we are talking about mass groups, but that’s another issue I may or may not get to.
But what people don’t seem to get when they claim that someone is taking away their freedom of speech, they apparently don’t realize that EVERYONE ELSE has that same freedom (in this county at least, theoretically at least. Don’t make me start quoting The Clash, I’ll do it!)
When you utilize your right to speak freely, you are inspiring others to do the same. This applies in just about any fucking conversation you start, any time you have a microphone in had, any time you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, etc. What I mean by inspiring others is giving them the idea to also speak. I know that to Daniel Tosh and other assholes this is a strange concept, but other people get to respond to you when you speak. They get to give you feedback and criticize you. Being on a stage does not take that away. So, when you complain about someone criticizing you by saying they are taking away your right to free speech, you, sir, are actually more accurately committing that crime. You are saying they do not have a right to criticize you or respond to what you say. So, fuck you. Free Speech, like all other things in life, has consequences. The consequence being that, when you’re being stupid or offensive, other people get to tell you that.
Daniel Tosh, you’re a dick. You’re not funny. Making a hypothetical rape victim out of someone who paid to see you, makes you a piece of shit.
^^^^^^Me, using my Right to Free Speech. Look how American I am!
That was the official end to this post. But then I decided to actually talk about the idea of the issue of freedom of speech in masses. You can stop reading if you’d like.
This has less to do with freedom of speech and more to do with how what individuals in the media say and do gets extrapolated, exaggerated and becomes a part of culture. Or, it might just be reflective of the culture. I’m not a sociologist, I just dabble in social psychology…irresponsibly.
But what I mean is, certain ideas and norms in our culture are pushed forward through the media and entertainment. The normalization of rape, physical abuse, and other things we claim to be against but fail to stand up against, often come up in the media and are really downplayed. Take the Rhianna/Chris Brown case for example. In a very public moment, it became news to the country that this was a physically abusive relationship, something we are all obviously against (unless you’re a piece of shit and advocate for that kind of thing). However, no celebrities stood up and said “fuck that guy, he’s a piece of shit. He should go to jail, right now.” Instead, we saw nearly all celebrities skirt the issue. We got a lot of “No Comment”s and “I’m staying out of this.” This is the kind of media and entertainment response that fuels normalization. After all of these celebrities responded, many, many young people were overhead (over-twittered/facebooked) making statements like “Well maybe she deserved it” “Who knows what really happened.”
I like to think I know a thing or two about human nature and adolescents (After 7 years of study, I’d fucking hope so) and I feel pretty confidence in saying that if any big name celebrity from the adolescent entertainment world stood up and said “This is wrong. This should never happen.” (No, Tina Turner does not have any clout in the 14 year-old’s world) more kids would have been able to see this incident for what it was. Adolescent relationship abuse is hugely on the rise. I only have correlational data to show, but I will go ahead and speculate that this normalization had a major influence.
So, my message, I’m not saying celebrities have a responsibility to be role models. I just wish some of the would stand up to be role models. Speak out against what is obviously wrong in the moment, not 10 years later.