People will get bent out of shape over the slightest appearance of offense. There’s nothing new in human nature about it, it’s just that with the advent of the Internet, and more recently, social media, it has become easier to find crowds of the offended and often a simple statement may go viral and the person that made the statement, or produced the video, will somehow become the focus of a derangement unheard of until the last dozen or so years. Sometimes, these innocuous utterances will even make national level news. Again, 20 years ago, no one would have ever heard, but because every journalist (or wanna be) is on social media, these are easily picked up and spread widely, over a short period of time.
I’m lucky, as every American is, in that we have codified in our founding document, the Constitution, the right of free speech. It just so happens to be part of the First Amendment, and I often sop and think about why that particular amendment, within what is known as the Bill of Rights, was first. It’s simply this: The Framers wanted to ensure our rights to speak, and write what we wanted and that government would be incapable of preventing speech it didn’t like. No other country at the time, or even now, has such a strict prohibition against government interference. there are some that like to pretend they have free speech, but there always seems to be some sort of limitation imposed because none of these have a founding document that guarantees that right no matter the ruling party.
Here in theUS, although there have been calls from some sectors for hate speech laws, none have been seriously contemplated due to that pesky First Amendment. We would have to vote to rescind that amendment as it stands now for any such legislation passed to be able to withstand Constitutional scrutiny. That’s good. No matter how much any of us may despise another persons words, unless they are actually making a direct incitement to violence against another person or group, or defame a person falsely, they’re free to vomit whatever they want.
The reason I’m writing about this is because recently, a statement made by a comedian, Jo Brand, in the UK went completely viral and although she later explained it was meant as a joke, has nonetheless enraged some on the Internet. Here’s the statement:
“They’re very, very easy to hate, and I’m kind of thinking, why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?”
The “They’re” she’s referring to are conservatives or right-wingers. She doesn’t like these people and is commenting on the recent milkshake attacks on persons in the UK that supported Brexit. Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit Party, was one. Was she actually calling for people to attack those she hates with acid? No, of course not. After looking at this for a while I came to the conclusion that she was actually doing the opposite and making a comparison to those that have been attacked with acid. Having a milkshake thrown at you may be embarrassing, but is far from the damage that occurs when someone throw acid in your face. In other words, “get over it”.
And yet, in the UK, the police are actually investigating her. No kidding. But then when I read that, It brought back thoughts about this. I have lived in the UK, for a short period of time when I was younger. I love the country and the people. I don’t recognize that country anymore from what I read. They actually have police monitoring social media for what may be viewed as offensive speech. Not calls to violence, just speech someone may not like. I’m glad I live in America. We can say the silliest, dumbest things we want and offend whomever we want without having the government ringing our doorbell.
I hope the police there come to their senses, but based on previous incidents, like the one linked above, I suspect that she’ll be charged with something. I’d invite her here to the US, but, as already noted, she hates people like me.