Freedom Of Speech Run Amok

Recently, a father of four named Jared Schmeck was on a live televised phone call with the President and First Lady, on a Christmas Eve event supposedly tracking Santa Claus’ progress, (a tradition designed to give children and their families joy in anticipation of the day ahead). After President Biden asked what Schmeck’s children were looking forward to and sweetly wishing him and his family a Merry Christmas, the man inexplicably punctuated his call with “Let’s Go Brandon.”

Jared Schmeck (l); President and First Lady Biden (r)

For those who have heard of the chant/hashtag ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ but may not be aware of its origin or meaning …

The hashtag was born after a sports reporter misheard a racing crowd chanting “F*ck Joe Biden” while interviewing the winning driver named Brandon Brown, thinking they were cheering him on.  It is basically giving a middle finger to President Biden.

Now, ol’ Jared Schmeck was heard complaining to The Oregonian that he’s being unfairly criticized because people have slammed his joke. “Now I am being attacked for utilizing my freedom of speech.”  No, sweet cheeks, you are not being attacked, however if you believe you have the ‘right’ to speak to the President in such a manner, then surely you must acknowledge that the rest of us have a right to criticize your judgment, your foul language, your lack of mental acuity, and for being a grade-A jerk.

Beau of the Fifth Column expresses it well …

I wonder, if the Founding Fathers had realized how ignorant and cruel the people of this nation would become over the centuries, might they have put a few constraints on some of the ‘rights’ included in the Bill of Rights, or Amendments #1-10?  Seems to me we need some, since people are obviously incapable of using their brains, of using a bit of common sense, of showing respect.

Take, for example, this voicemail that was left on U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell’s voicemail …

Is this really how people want to be remembered, by the number of times they can invoke the F-bomb against a fellow human being?  Is this who we are?  More and more it seems so, for until the past ten years or so, I never knew how cruel, disrespectful and downright ignorant so many of the people who call themselves “Americans” could be.  Needless to say, I am deeply ashamed of a large portion of this nation.  Freedom of speech has run amok in a way that would horrify the men who wrote the Bill of Rights in 1791.  ‘Americans’ need to learn to engage the brain before opening the mouth, and there ought to be a price when they intentionally fail to do so.

78 thoughts on “Freedom Of Speech Run Amok

  1. Jill—
    I read your more recent column first, and I agree with your adopting Professor Taboo’s sensible suggestions. There’s no reason for any of us to subject ourselves to insults.

    Many of us share the exasperation you express about the coarsening of discourse. And the coarsening extends to actions—on planes, in supermarkets, at fast food restaurants, etc. I recently posted a piece asking, tentatively and probably naively, if there might be enough Americans willing to participate in a dialogue discussing whether the Bill of Rights suggests the need for a “Bill of Responsibilities”: Might people be able to come to some consensus about how the former could lead to the latter? I offered a few references to this pairing. Such discussions would be a citizens’ effort at the local level—emphatically not involving government. (My old League of Women Voters mindset surfaced…)

    Congressman Jamaal Bowman of the Bronx, NY, just wrote to President Biden, urging him to declare January 6 a “ national day of healing “ He points to all the rising pathologies in American life due to Covid and the dislocations it created. He sees President Biden as the ideal person to begin this process. I worry that the demonization of our decent, compassionate President has made such an effort more difficult. But if TFG is planning a press conference on Jan 6 to claim the day as his triumph, perhaps our real President needs to address the nation.

    I note the above because I think what happened on your blog is in line with big problems that are rocking our country. No easy answers, but lots of questions.
    Hope you’re breathing deeply!

    Liked by 2 people

    • It worries me that hateful speech, all too often accompanied by hateful actions, has become a ‘norm’ in this nation, that we are no longer appalled, but merely shrug our shoulders and roll our eyes. I agree with the Prof … “No easy answers, but lots of questions.” Sadly, the minority (GOP) seem to be okay with the status quo, even to the point of encouraging violence. Sigh. Trying to breathe deeply, but sometimes I find that instead I am actually holding my breath!

      Liked by 1 person

    • It seems our social contracts for living in a civilized society is crumbling by the day. This just happened last week on a Delta flight. I feel sad and embarrassed by how low ppl have devolved, the way we treat our fellow human beings. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

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  3. I’m okay with free speech as long as it’s not a threat or inciting violence. If you want to be known forever as a Schmuck for telling the sitting president to F himself, then be a Schmuck.

    I’m also good with the consequences or repercussions of exercising that free speech as long as it’s not violence or threats of violence as well. I believe some sensitive people refer to that nowadays as “being cancelled”.

    I guess my position is best summed up by XKCD #1357

    Liked by 5 people

  4. I wrote down my own musings on Freedom of Speech today. Luckily I hadn’t read your blog first or I wouldn’t have been as mild as I was in my own blog on the topic… It’s so sad to see this rift deepening and widening the way it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jill,

    If you’d like to consider appropriate censorship of bigoted non-sensical comments here by indecent comments by indecent, childish Commenters… I have a tried-n-true policy & practice to control Cyber-Harassment & Bullying:

    https://professortaboo.com/professors-netiquette/

    Furthermore, it is absolutely the right of any private U.S. business, like Twitter or Facebook, etc, did to former Prez tRump to CENSOR (or ban) immature Commenters. The principle of Freedom of Speech only applies in the public forums, public property, public grounds—NOT on private property or privately owned social-media platforms like WordPress, who is also privately owned. Far too many hyper-hateful, hyper-vigilante political miscreants of aggressive political verbiage cannot comprehend this basic American Constitutional, Bill of Rights principle either. Case and point above. 🤦‍♂️ 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Here is another example of ‘Freedom of Speech Run Amok’. In today’s publication of “The Root” there is a column by Rachel Pilgrim titled Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Tweets Kwanzaa is a ‘Fake Religion’ and written beneath in smaller letters, “It’s a fake religion created by a psychopath” Greene tweeted on Sunday. Pilgrim begins by writing : “Of course, the holiday season isn’t devoid of Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s usual antics while millions of Black people around the world began celebrating the weeklong holiday of Kwanzaa on Sunday, Greene used her twitter fingers to do what she does best, talk about things about which she has no clue. I seriously doubt that Marjorie Taylor Greene’s interpretation of the First Amendment’s Freedom of Speech matches either yours or mine! WHAK!! Thank-you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • If (R) Marjorie Taylor-Greene represents anything “good” about our Constitutional (Republic) democracy Ellen, it is the mere (sad?) fact that just about ANYONE with no clue about human decency, public etiquette as a SERVING member of our U.S. Congress “standards” according to the 14th Congressional District of Georgia—a zip code with a demographic of 77.5% White, 10.8% Hispanic, 8.9% Black, almost 57% blue-collar at that, and THICK in very rural northwest Georgia-sticks—and who fully comprehends what equality means, defined by our six Core Founding Fathers… is that even mediocred-intelligent people can be voted into state and/or federal office if all their supporters are identical in IQ’s, or lower. 😉 😜

      That’s “democracy” at its best… or worst, huh? Lol

      Like

    • I did see that column in The Root and … well, I would have been amazed at the stupidity, but then after nearly two years with ol’ Margie in Congress, as well as Boebert, Gaetz, and others, nothing shocks me anymore. Remember the Jewish space lasers that Margie claimed started the California wildfires last year? She’s got the brain of a snail … oh wait, that’s an insult to snails! WHAK!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. oh, fuck Joe biden. You were totally with people saying fuck trump, even replaced the j with f for the last number of years on your blog but when someone says the same thing about the guy you like, you get all outraged. grow the fuck up, jerk.

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    • Dear Scott,
      As I said in my comment at the start, it helps if you tell people what your problem is. Shooting your mouth off without saying why serves no purpose, and only makes things worse. The world has enough hate in it without adding to it without purpose. That you disagree with our politics we already know; what we do not know is why you have become so vehement these past few years. Maybe you think you are carrying on a reasonable conversation, but it certainly does not come across that way anymore. I say this not to run you down, Scott, but to try to learn what is motivating you to basically “take up the arms of war.” War might pad egos, but it never solves problems. Screaming gets us nowhere.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Oh man. This is a classic crash and burn. You’ve just cemented most of the followers to this blog, straight solid, right behind anyone, anyone who is not Republican.
      And sunk any decent Republican’s chance of getting any listening time here.
      Man it was like you are actually a Democrat fifth columnist self-planted to discredit the Republican cause.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. How many times do I have to tell you that the very cornerstone of freedom of speech is the following”
    “I may not agree with what you say but I’ll defend your right to say it.”
    The only reason you feel that free speech has “gone amok” is because people are saying things that you don’t like and you don’t have the strength of character to handle it or the intelligence to put together logical arguments to argue your points in opposition to their positions. all you do is call people names, jerks, idiots and assholes. It’s okay for you to do it but when I do such things, I’m called vile and nasty, just more evidence that your core character is hipocrasy.

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    • You’ve had your three strikes, Scott. I don’t know what has happened to you lately, for you were once a nice man and I called you a ‘friend’, but of late you have a chip on your shoulder and have forgotten how to be respectful, so you’re done here.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m sorry you lost a friend b/c of politics. It seems national politics has created a great divide among the radicalized left and right.
        I was hoping Scott would come to his senses and calm down a bit, at least be respectful when visiting someone’s blog.
        You have every right to restrict someone’s abusive speech if it serves no purpose other than to insult and denigrate you and your readers.
        Actually it’s your job to moderate all dialogue for the benefit of all your readers. Do what you think is best.

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  9. Maybe I misspoke. Let us try, “Some people need to be taught discipline.” Running their mouths without saying anything helpful is the ultimate in causing unnecessary divisions. Oh, did I just infer some fat orange pumpkin-like creature had no discipline? Then I guess I have none either…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Jared Schmeck represents far too many mal-informed, poorly educated Americans in our U.S. Constitution’s explicit & implicit meanings & interpretations of “Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press,” in the precise light of what our six Core Founding Fathers intended when they drafted & finalized our Constitution versus our Bill of Rights.

    In my personal opinion one like Schmeck—or any other hyper-individualized citizen abusing the First Amendment or distorting our civil liberties—cannot fully discuss or understand the entire Constitutional meaning of “Freedom of Speech” without first correctly understanding and embracing the concept of human decency, or indecency in the public forum, as well as the intimately correlated “Offense Principle,” sometimes referred to as the “Harm Principle.”

    As a prolific icon of 19th-century political & social theory, John Stuart Mill further refined Western liberty as justifying the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state and social control. In other words, J.S. Mill’s Harm/Offense Principle set the boundary for unregulated free speech, and his Greatest Happiness Principle (GHP) to regulate speech outside that boundary because it threatens unconsented-to harm. However, today J.S. Mill would’ve most certainly refined his Principles even more to incorporate modern science’s contributions to mental-health, tangible harms individuals suffer directly from bigoted speech, and indirect harms generated by the systemic (corporate?) oppressions and epistemic injustices that bigoted speech constructs and reinforces.

    I particularly like and endorse Melina C. Bell’s abstract findings and theories* about Free Speech Abuse. She writes:

    My basic argument is that we should use Mill’s harm principle to set the boundary for unregulated free speech, and Mill’s Greatest Happiness Principle (GHP) to regulate speech that threatens unconsented-to harm. Speech should be regulated to minimize such harm, ensuring that the regulation itself does not cause greater harm than it prevents, and that the interests of all persons are treated with equal concern. Using these principles, I hope to show that (1) harmless speech – no matter how offensive it may be – should not be suppressed coercively; but (2) certain forms of speech – such as bigoted insults, which fall into a category of what is sometimes called ‘assaultive speech’ – are harmful and fail to express a genuine opinion or viewpoint, and so do not deserve free speech protection.

    Since the dawn of the internet (1993?) and social-media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc, all essentially have been refusing to be held accountable for HOW their private platforms were used by subscribed members to spread not only hate, but mass disinformation (lies) as well, i.e. regulating “Free Speech” appropriately and ethically, THIS is what millions of Jared Schmecks get away with and go unpunished or unchecked. Free-speech Abuse is absolutely NOT what our Core Founding Fathers, our Constitution, or our Bill of Rights intended implicitly or explicitly. Period!

    ————

    * – Source: Bell, M. (2021). John Stuart Mill’s Harm Principle and Free Speech: Expanding the Notion of Harm. Utilitas, 33(2), 162-179. doi:10.1017/S0953820820000229
    https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/utilitas/article/john-stuart-mills-harm-principle-and-free-speech-expanding-the-notion-of-harm/F1D77D5D5F9A4B8AA3BAD4058A9708B4#

    Liked by 3 people

    • Excellent argument supported by irrefutable evidence. As I understand it the Founding Fathers did have concerns about ‘The Mob’ mentality and as how to restrain this. Something which the current Republican Party mindset seems to have forgotten or discarded.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Indeed Determined. As most of us historians, history buffs, and political science grads know full well, there are CLEAR reasons & indications past & present as to why that American political party’s roots are still often referred to as the GOP—or as I often refer to them:

        Good Ole Boy party on horses (or is it elephants? 😉 ) who love down home cookin’ and where Yosemite Sam runs amok shootin’, tootin’, screamin’, hatin’ & shootin’ sum more! “Get some rope Boys, we gonna do us sum lynchin’ and a hangin’ of sum Libby-reals!” 😉 Yep, you think I’m kidding?

        P.S. I’ve lived in Texas most all my life. I am an 8th-generation Texan (i.e. my family was here when this dayum Lone Star State was a struggling, broke Republic) …so I absolutely KNOW what tha Hades I’m talkin’ bout down here amongst all the escaped asylum patients of said political party. 😄

        Liked by 2 people

        • That’s sort of what I was afraid is happening.
          Oh the irony, The Party of Lincoln.
          Seems as if the two parties gradually drifted together, then continue on their course until they ended up on the side the other was.
          As LBJ said as a Democrat when he signed Civil Rights legislation ‘There goes the South’

          Liked by 1 person

    • Good points all! I have long blamed the anonymity and freedom of social media platforms for the increased incidence of hate speech, but in truth, it is the haters who are responsible for their own speech. They have been hiding under rocks until the Internet came along and gave them a voice without any responsibility being attached for their words.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. the only “freedom of speech” is for journalists and churches. Doesn’t anyone take american government classes anymore? People screaming they have “rights” fail to understand they also have responsibilities. fail one you don’t deserve to have the other. morons.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, there is a bit more to it than freedom of religion and press, but still, one cannot call for the death of children and say it is their Constitutional “right”. With every right, I have always said, comes a corresponding responsibility, and that is where this nation and its people are failing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sigh … what is this nation becoming? I fear for the future if we cannot find some way to bring the two sides, liberals and conservatives, whites and Blacks, Democrats and Republicans, together. What I call the “Great Divide” is getting wider by the day, it seems.

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  12. Jill, three simple truths. 1) if someone wants to be taken seriously, cursing, name calling, labelling, shouting et al will not accomplish this. It usually means you just have a poor argument and must resort to bullying tactics. 2) death threats must be considered seriously no matter how juvenile the author of the threat – others may not know the author is joking or politicking and there are people in jail or going to jail for his or her threatening BS. 3) for those who say we are a Christian nation, we seem to be ignoring the WWJD question. He said to treat others like you want to be treated, a rule so simple it can be found in multiple religious texts. Let me say that golden rule in a more antithetical way – if you want to be treated as a jerk, then the fastest way to get there is to be one. The opposite is also true. Keith

    Liked by 4 people

  13. The First Amendment has nothing to do with ordinary people throwing F-bombs, as fun as that may be. It has to do with freedom of worship & freedom of the press to print what they please. That’s all. When ordinary folks claim they have “freedom of speech”, right there they’re proclaiming their total ignorance of the First Amendment.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. People are abusing their rights because they can, because they know that the government can’t do anything about it. After all, the Bill of Rights had been in place how long now??? And, nobody’s going to challenge that. After all, no one wants a Supreme Court case up their asses, so yeah, we are letting it slide…

    Liked by 1 person

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  16. While I have nothing against using the F-bomb … often and for all sorts of occasions, this behaviour is unacceptable. Particularly wishing for the death of a whole family. 😮 Is that how America wants to portray itself? You wanna be leaders of the free world, a superpower? Then know that with great power comes great responsibilty. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • In this case, I agree with you! I am known for the f-bomb myself, but not with the intent of hurting another being, more usually because the cat got under my feet and tripped me, or the dishwasher leaked all over the kitchen floor! This is how the U.S. is today, and no, we are not, contrary to what some would have us believe, leaderes of the free world. Sure, we have more military hardware than many nations, but might does not make right, and we waste money on nukes, tanks, planes, etc. that could be better spent on educating the next generation, on providing affordable housing for all, on cleaning up our environmental mess. But no, the big boys in Washington would rather buy more killing toys … it’s an ego trip for them.

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  17. People gotta be people, and haters got to be haters. How foul their language is is up to them, in my mind,. BUT, there is no need for the threatening statements. What I did notice about the email, the sender did not give voice to why he or she sent the email. It was pure vituperative comment that served no purpose but to create fear and anger. Whatever the bone they wanted to grind, they were too caught up in their frenzy to give it a voice. For that they should be disciplined.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think there’s a fine line, and when a person says he would like to see someone’s children die before there eyes, that line has been crossed. You’re right … this person was apparently unable to articulate his/her reasons for the hateful spew, but just wanted to target someone, to make them fearful. This nation can never unify as long as people engage in such hate speech, for it feeds off of itself.

      Like

      • And this is not the right time for those feelings to be fed. Your country is on the brink of Civil War again, and anything might fan that flame. At times I think there are people who want civil war, except they have no idea what the consequences might be, nor do they understand the lives that will be devastated. I do not want to lose the friends I have made in the past 4 years, almost 5 soon.
        You remember when we met. I pretty much hated all Americans, based on the ones I met and saw on TV. You taught me differently, not all Americans are arrogant assholes, if you will pardon the language. But those that still are, well, I’d rather not think about them. ..

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think a true Civil War is unlikely, but rather a revolution of sorts with more violence than any of us living today have ever experienced. This is why it’s so important that those who participated in the attempted coup, including the former guy, be sent to prison with no possibility of parole. But sadly that is not happening and they will be free to start the blood flowing in the streets come the election of 2024 when their ‘guy’ loses … or wins. Either way will likely mean the loss of any remaining democratic principles in this nation, and the end of life for many of us.

          Yes, I do remember when we first met and we have both learned from each other, I think. I find myself thinking “How would rawgod view this?” more than a few times. LuL

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          • A dangerous question, that. But I wouldlive to hear some of your answers.
            The Civil War thing actually comes from a member of a CIA think tank tasked with finding countries ripe for civil war. Not sure where I readit, who the writer was, or exactly what she said, but according to the markers they use, the USA is third, I think, on the list of nations ready to enter into a civil war on the Earth today. From a possible 180 nations, approx, 3rd is pretty damn high!

            Liked by 1 person

            • I have read the same, or similar views about a ‘Civil War’, however with no lines of demarcation whatsoever, I’m not sure it’s even in the realm of possibility. I see what’s coming more as a revolution of sorts. Either way, something is certain to evolve from the current state of hatred between the two sides of the political spectrum. Sigh.

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              • Evolution is usually progressive. Revolution can go either way. As I have asked before, what side will the military be on. I know the president is the official Commander-in-Chief, but in my eyes the 5 star colonels and admirals and such are ” most likely” to take the Republican side, that is where most of the “hawks” fly. Civilians cannot defeat the army, especially unarmed civilians, which is where most “doves” lie.

                Liked by 1 person

                • I do not think, though I could be wrong, that the military would be on the side of the radical right-wing. The generals … at least some of them … were planning to go against Trump’s wishes if he had ordered military interference in the election, as was his plan at one point. I’m sure there are exceptions, but for the most part, the higher-ups in the military take their oaths very seriously.

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