Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Freedom vs. Self-restraint; Can vs. Should

There is a line from one of the Celtic Thunder songs that goes like this:

Come by the hills to the land where fancy is free…

Where “fancy is free.”  That is an idiom for “fancy free” where “fancy” means whatever your imagination conjures for you to do.  You are free to do whatever your little cottin’ pickin’ heart desires.  In the context of this song, the motive is pure and good.  Just as the thoughts surrounding the word “gay” were pure and good until a few decades ago.

Freedom is nice.  It is good knowing we are free to do whatever we want.

The producers of the movie “The Interview” were free to do whatever they want.  So they created a movie full of vile, vulgar, and generally tasteless words and behavior, ostensibly to cater to a particular demographic that believes that type of dialogue is cool.  The film made money.  Everyone except the North Koreans were happy.

Is “freedom” being abused?  Absolutely.

The leftist protestors in New York are “fancy free”.  Al Sharpton and Bill deBlasio, too.  They are free to say what they want – even if what they say is based on lies and distortions.  And they do, despite the consequences of their actions.  The end justifies the means.  Their “means” are lies and distortions.  Their end?  Who knows?   Their “freedom” to spout distortions that happen to also be incendiary is more important to them then the truth.  They prefer the consequences of their distortions than the consequences of the truth.

This concern about being “incendiary” or “offensive” is a two edged sword.  Desire for restraint depends on whose ox is being gored.  If I chose to use my freedom to speak out against Islamic ideology because that ideology promotes violence against infidels, and that speech upsets some Muslims, I would not want someone telling me to shut up – just because someone is offended and might go into a psychotic rage.  The truth is more important than offense of the truth.

Speech used to promote lies, distortions, slander (untruthful claims), should not be given the same claim to “freedom” as promoting truth.  Al Sharpton and Bill deBlasio were distorting the truth in their “free speech” to promote their political agenda.  They failed to acknowledge the facts of the cases they used to incite violence.  They abused their rights to “free speech.”

In the case of profane movies and vulgar TV shows and other media, they, too, abuse their right to freedom and free speech.

Islam would not have as much of an attraction in the West – with their perverse version of “morality” - if we in the West treated our freedoms with greater respect.

In fact, we have become so “fancy free” in our culture that we have become immune to knowing what is of value and what is not.  We can no longer distinguish between what we “can” say and what we “should” say.  We use “freedom” as an excuse to turn off our sense of morality and just about any other sense that we have remaining.  “Can” trumps “should.”  Self-restraint?  What’s that?

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