A strange comment came up on WTHR’s Facebook page the other day. A guy took a swipe at IMPD with regards to Officer David Bisard’s alleged drunk driving crash, but he did so in a thread about a tragic story about Peter Lenz, the 13-year-old killed while motorcycle racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday.
Other commenters quickly called him out on it, saying it wasn’t the place for his comment. His response? He complained that they were violating his “freedom of speech.”
Does freedom of speech mean freedom from criticism? Because it seems to me when you put your opinion out there for everyone to see, you should be prepared to defend yourself. The original commenter was expressing his opinion, but so were the people who responded to him. He might have said, “Hey, sorry if I offended people by bringing that up, but it’s really been on my mind lately.”
The thing about having a free and open society is that everyone is allowed to express themselves – without fear of being jailed by their government after publishing a story about government corruption, for example. When it comes to casual interactions, the lines are blurrier. Someone says “you can’t say that!” and somebody else says “Yes I can! You’re violating my freedom of speech by telling me I can’t say that!”
The cool thing about Facebook et al is that it allows people to engage with each other and share ideas and opinions in real time…in a public forum. That means we need to be prepared to take a little pushback sometimes. If you don’t like it, you can always start your own blog…and disable comments!