Perhaps you’ve seen what I’ve seen lately on social media websites: an uptick in the number of political videos or statements with a request no one responds.
Something to the effect of:
I know this is going to tick off Obama supporters, but I’m definitely voting for Mitt Romney, so no comments, please.
(Insert some radical video clip from an obscure website)
I find this puzzling. Particularly because some of the folks I’ve seen do this are:
The belief our statements – yes, anytime we share a video, news article or rambling (even if we did not produce it), we are making that statement – are not subject to backlash or even mere conversation is consistent with folks who are not educated, informed, aware or responsible. It is even childish.
WE TALK ABOUT MORAL issues constantly in this country, especially at election time. We also encounter folks who cloak themselves in talk about the U.S. Constitution and how their opposition disregards it.
Morally,it is wrong to subject others to your opinions and ask they not respond. Is that a lesson we teach our children?
Constitutionally, if that’s even a word, it is wrong to restrict another’s freedom of speech, which is the First Amendment to that cherished Constitution. To do this is even anti-America and smells an awful lot like Russia or Nazi Germany.
And to this point in time, I’ve never noticed it being an issue. It’s one of those things that goes without saying: We must be prepared to defend our statements.
It goes with our right to make statements to begin with.
WHEN I WAS A REPORTER, I thought a great way to make my personal blog interesting would be to tell selected stories of my workday that weren’t really fit to be shared by my employer’s website or print edition.
Sometimes, they’d be funny stories, such as my struggle to comprehend the dialect of a poor, uneducated man from central North Carolina as he tried to tame his excitement and describe a neighbor’s house fire. Occasionally, they’d offer my opinion on a moral or political issue, such as an encounter with a convicted felon who sold drugs from his dilapidated home in a poor section of town.
I could get away with this as long as no one at the newspaper or its readership came across my personal blog.
And for more than two years, no one did. But I finally slipped up and used a real name in a post, which put my blog in a list of Google search results that came up when a reader wanted to know more about a story I’d written.
“Justin feels sorry for this guy – that MUST be why he wrote this story,” one reader commented on an online story. “Here’s a link to his personal blog.”
(Each of the 100 or so comments thereafter pertained to my personal blog – and they weren’t very nice.)
AFTER A TALK WITH the editor, which was more of an explanation, I removed any terms that’d make my blog “searchable” to local readers and changed my blog’s web address. I also – regrettably – stopped writing about the news stories I wrote.
Sure, I felt the border between my personal life and occupation had been torn down, as y’all know I’m far from guarded on my blog. But I was also reminded of something:
Nothing we say is exempt from others’ right to say something back.
If we are unwilling or unprepared to defend our statements, perhaps we should think twice before making them.