Since I am headed out the door for a day trip to garner fresh produce at a place called The Peach Stand, I thought I would pull out a few threads to twirl around our fingers as we contemplate issues.
The US Supreme Court has just ruled that freedom of speech does give you license to be an asshole (sorry folks, the real word is needed), provided you do not hurt anyone. A person now known as the “profane cheerleader” won her case, but missed the message. Just because you can be an asshole, does not mean you should. We must be accountable to each other and for our actions and words.
If the profane cheerleader never learns that lesson, she will be like a certain former president in his 70s, that remains an enfant terrible, even at his age. I mention him as the other court story is people involved with the January 6 insurrection are starting to get sentenced. Some will get light sentences, as they did not harm people or property, but others will likely receive more. As these sentences start to pile up, they will stand right in front of those Republican elected officials holding white paint brushes trying to paint over the insurrection as if it did not happen.
That accountability stuff is important, especially with folks who feel entitled to do anything they want. In their minds, it is OK to treat airplane attendants with disdain and threaten them. It is OK to show road rage which has been a growing problem even before the pandemic. It is OK to rage at slow service in restaurants, who are understaffed as they build back up their business. But, it is not OK. You can disagree without being disagreeable. You can share disappointment, without being uncivil.
Yes, the freedom of speech gives Americans the right to be assholes. But, there must be accountability along with that. That Jesus guy speaks of treating others like we want to be treated. If someone chooses to be an asshole, the offender needs to know it gives others the right to ignore you and not consider your raged filled or threatening words and actions. We need leaders to lead in this area, being representative of our better angels not or worst demons. Emulating a deceitful and bullying former president is not the example to follow.
There is an old saying that is more true than not. Those folks who are the least tolerant of others tend to elicit more tolerance from others with their own actions and words. What the intolerant ones do not realize, is people will eventually vote with their feet and not want to be around you or lessen their time with you, if that cannot totally avoid you. In other words, people tend not to want to suffer fools. So, at least be accountable for your own sake.
I wish there was a way to make kindness and acceptance a policy, Keith.
VJ, agreed. Too many folks view kindness as a weakness, when it actually is a strength. We can disagree without being disagreeable. There is a truism for parents, if you want your kids to better hear what you are saying, whisper. Keith
So true. Worked as a teacher too.
Thanks for that add, VJ.
Free speech also means that those who do speak freely have to take responsibility for what they babble!
Agreed on that as well. And, if they won’t, they need to be asked why and held accountable. Keith
Agreeing on that too fully!!
It’s the alternative that matters in law. That’s why this case is so important a victory for all of us… including assholes.
Agreed. Still there is an old saying, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
Note to Readers: In my consulting days, I borrowed a phrase that is apt – organizations take on the personality of its leader. The direct reports emulate the boss and so on. I have witnessed very egalitarian companies that follow the lead of an egalitarian CEO. This actually translated into customer service. I have also seen a bullying CEO oversee an organization that bullied other lines of business in the company. Interaction proved more difficult with this group. And, I have seen an imperial CEO spawn imperial behaviors from his direct reports. A famous line uttered by this CEO to a colleague of mine is “What’s in it for me?”
Leaders must be even more mindful of what they say and do as they get noticed. This is why the deceitful and corrupt behavior of the former president is so damaging. The impact of his words can be damaging and actually cause more zealous followers to act on his behalf, whether the directions are specific or implied.
I have mixed feelings about this one. I am more concerned about people in power spreading lies with no accountability than I am about a few bad words. Be an asshole, and I’ll know to avoid you. Spread untruths as truths and I may never know.
Janis, I fully understand. Unfortunately, we have to tolerate the deceit and conspiracy theories in free speech. It just disappoints people purposefully abuse the system – the words from names like Trump, Johnson, Cruz, Gohmert, Brooks, De Santis, etc. should be taken with a grain of salt or just disbelieved as a starting point. Keith