The Right to be Heard
The headline today is about people wanting to use their First Amendment Right to free speech and make a statement. Men and Women have fought for over 241 years to protect this “Right”, but that in no way means anyone has to like what you have to say and what forum is appropriate for expression?
There seems to be a misnomer that the louder and more demonstrative you are in stating your “Right”, the more everyone is supposed to be ok with what you have to say. Unfortunately, there is no “Right” to be an arrogant loudmouth that thinks you are correct and everyone else is stupid. That’s where you cross the line. There are people on all sides of an issue that seem to be myopic in thought and abusive to anyone that disagrees with their opinion. Feel free to make your point, but back off if you don’t think its ok for others to disagree.
Case in point, a young couple in Oregon that owned a bakery and made a decision that they preferred to not make a cake for a homosexual couple. This couple had chosen to live their lives in a manner that the owner’s of the bakery felt was against their religious beliefs. Unfortunately, the owners of the bakery were ostracized, attacked, and lost their business while standing up for their beliefs. Those that agreed with the owners even tried to raise money to help support the family and Go Fund Me shut down the fundraising citing “against our policies”. Don’t like their opinion? Don’t support their efforts, but respect their “Right” to have their own opinions different from yours. Freedom of Speech can never be a one way street…regardless of which way you choose to travel.
Professional athletes have made a recent decision to protest perceived “oppression” by kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem. This has created an uproar among many that believe it’s an insult to those who have fought and died for the “Right” to make such a statement. It also needs to be noted that employers have a “Right” to expect employees/members to represent their organizations in a manner that brings positive light to the organization. You have every “Right” to make your case on your own dime, but when it’s on someone else’s payroll/platform, you need to respect their “Rights” as employers/organizations and make your case off the clock on your own time and platform, not theirs. Anyone has the “Right” to make their opinion heard in the proper forum, and people have a “Right” to disagree and no longer participate. The line gets crossed when either side decides to retaliate physically because they don’t like what the other side has to say. Freedom is a two way street, and behavior that crosses the line cannot be tolerated on any level.
As we begin another week in the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave. Stand up for what you believe and support what you choose to support. Just do it in a way that represents your “Rights” and does not step on the “Rights” of others. If you don’t want to support bakers that are standing up for their religious beliefs, fine, leave them alone and allow them their “Right”. Don’t attack them physically or try to destroy their lives, state your opinion, but allow them to live theirs as well. If you don’t like professional athletes kneeling for the National Anthem, feel free to express displeasure and don’t support their efforts in the future…but never try to eliminate their “Right” to express their beliefs in the proper forum.
There are many women and men over the last 241 years that have sacrificed so that you live in a country that allows you to voice your opinions. Do not cross the line and try to violently suppress the rights of people on both sides of the fence to make their points heard. Violence and personal attacks are not protected “Rights” and those that choose to go this course deserve to lose their “Right” to make their opinions heard.
Sam Smith is an established Branding and Marketing Executive that has spent the last decade leading multiple international non-profit’s and ministries to record results for operations and service to the world’s poor. He shares his passion at OptimizingMinistry.com