Freedom of Speech

Political Correctness Threatens Free Speech and Dissent

At the recent Fellowship Foundation National Prayer Breakfast, Dr. Benjamin Carson gave a speech that has received tremendous national attention because it critiques President Obama’s handling of the national debt, healthcare, education, taxes, and etc. in ways unfavorable to him.  What should not get lost in the responses to the speech, however, are the powerful comments he makes about America’s current insistence on political correctness.  Political correctness is threatening to diminish one of most important purposes of the First Amendment: protect unpopular speech.  While the First Amendment still protects unpopular speech, many people in positions of power are finding ways to create conditions where dissenting voices will face serious repercussions.  While it was not the politically correct thing to do, Dr. Carson did not allow a burgeoning American penchant for political correctness to keep him from disagreeing with President Obama on substantive issues while at this event that traditionally has not been a place where dissent has been accepted and while being in close proximity to President Obama.

When one elects to defy political correctness, he or she must be ready for backlash.  Many employers will establish a hostile agenda against employees when they voice disagreement with their policies and practices.  Although the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is charged with the responsibility of protecting employees from this type of discrimination, employees are not always safeguarded from this discrimination.  Many employees are too afraid to exercise their First Amendment rights because they fear losing their jobs.  Political correctness informs employees to remain silent and keep their disagreements with their employers private.  Unfortunately, too many people buy into this promotion of silence and end up getting crushed by the misery of their silence.

More lawyers, philanthropists, organizations, and etc. need to be willing to help individuals to combat efforts by powerful employers to mute their employees.

What good is the First Amendment if the American people are afraid to exercise the rights it guarantees?

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and other organizations deserve tremendous appreciation for their offering of free legal representation to individuals to fight against employers’ efforts to abrogate their employees’ First Amendment rights.

America would have never gained her liberation from Great Britain had it not been for the value of dissent the colonists evinced.

Some employers are even arrogant enough to place in writing that they forbid their employees from using their First Amendment rights to speak in opposition to them.  We certainly need more organizations like the ACLU and NAACP to rise up and aid in striking a mighty blow against political correctness and First Amendment violations.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission needs to be much more aggressive in defending employees against employers who engender conditions where political correctness is mandated, especially when it comes to employees’ rights and requests to have religious, racial, and viewpoint accommodations.

While this piece has focused primarily on political correctness in the workplace (and a little on political correctness in general), it is crucial to understand that political correctness is present in virtually every space of American life.  We deny the dangers of political correctness and don’t engage in efforts to eradicate it at our own peril.

What did you think about Dr. Benjamin Carson’s statements about political correctness?  What did you think about his critique of President Obama’s handling of the national debt, education, taxes, and healthcare?  Do you agree or disagree that political correctness is a threat to free speech and dissent?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

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Don’t Tell Me What to Say and Do on Facebook and Twitter

Freedom

(Photo credit: Chris Yarzab)

 

People have really gotten on my nerves with telling me and others about what they should and should not say and do on Facebook and Twitter. If you do not like what I say and do on Facebook and Twitter, then please simply remove yourself from being associated with me on Facebook and Twitter. I have even noticed that people who I have talked with in the past quite regularly no longer speak to me anymore because of the things I have said on Facebook and Twitter. For those of you who this refers to, I have a message for you: goodbye and take a hike! It is just really amazing how people do and say all kinds of wild things off of Facebook and Twitter, but they want to act like they are priests and evangelists when it comes to critiquing what other people say and do on Facebook and Twitter.

 

What I am really beginning to learn about why people have a problem with what other people tweet and post is they do not want what is said and done to reflect negatively on them. I am not saying that there are not people who authentically would not want you to be viewed in a negative way by what your status or tweet says.  What I would like for you to do, however, is to contemplate why an individual would want to try to prevent you from tweeting certain things and posting certain statuses.

 

In the empty Facebook status box, it asks, “What’s on your mind?” People should have the freedom to give an update to their Facebook friends about what’s on their minds. Twitter asks, “What’s happening?” People should, of course, have the liberty to give an update about “what’s happening?” Although I am sometimes unsettled by some of the shocking statements, lies, falsehoods, strange comments, and etc. promulgated on Facebook and Twitter, I never attempt to tell people that they need to stop posting things like that and/or need to take down their comments.

 

I long for a day when people will be more willing to allow others to be themselves. Additionally, I long for a day when people will be more willing to be themselves. It has to be a tremendously miserably life to live like others want you to live. To be honest, what’s valuable about a person who lives to be like what others want him or her to be? Nothing! What unique does that person have to offer? Nothing! Is this person really taking up space? Yes!

 

When you refuse to listen to what people who want to restrict your freedom have to say to you, then they will claim that you are simply stubborn and too prideful. They are right! I am unwilling to listen to any non-sense that makes an effort to tell me that I need to be like them or that would attempt to take away my personal liberties. To be frank, when you are worrying so much about what others post on Twitter and Facebook, then you really don’t have a life, are neglecting your own responsibilities, and have some deep self-esteem problems.

 

I encourage all those people who want to limit the freedoms of Facebook and Twitter users to remove themselves from Twitter and Facebook, or at least discontinue associating with people who are causing you such problems with what they say and do on Facebook and Twitter. If anything in this article offends you, then all I have to say is great! Please excuse me while I dust my shoulders off.

 

Antonio Maurice Daniels

 

University of Wisconsin-Madison