I’m lucky to live in a country where people have the freedom of speech. Certainly, if I lived in other parts of the world, I could be in serious trouble regarding some of the things I write about on this blog. But I live in a free society where people can believe whatever they want, think whatever they want, and express those ideas. This has a lot of advantages, to be certain. Allowing people the freedom to express their beliefs and ideas freely leads to some truly wonderful innovations and movements. But lately I’ve noticed a new trend.
People seem to be equating the ability to say whatever you want with the idea that every opinion or idea has equal merit. This extends to a lot of things in our society: religion, politics, philosophy–you name it. I don’t know how or when this began, but this seems to be the prevailing attitude in our society now. That somehow freedom of speech ensures that your voice must be taken seriously.
The US constitution may grant you the right to believe whatever you want and say whatever you want, but that’s just a guarantee that people will hear you–NOT that people will listen to you. Feel free to say or believe whatever you want–but if it’s stupid, don’t expect me to take it seriously. I don’t have to. There’s no legal mandate that says I have to take your ideas seriously or even consider them at all.
This country guarantees you a right to your opinion–but it also guarantees me a right to my opinion, and if my opinion is that your opinion is stupid, that’s perfectly acceptable. Of course the reverse of that is also true, and people are welcome to find my opinions stupid. I accept that that comes with living in a free society. That’s the price that comes with any free society–you get good ideas and you get bad ideas. But we don’t have to take the bad ones seriously.