Too many people have a wrong impression about what their right to free speech entails. They think it means you are obliged to listen to what they have to say. Some weeks back I removed some *friends* from my Facebook list. Errr… Let’s leave out for the moment what the more petulant
one ones had to say about that as it still makes me laugh uncontrollably, which as you know is rather inconvenient when one is trying to write type something. But there is this that one of them said which gave me a true *facepalm* moment when I heard it. When the deed of weeding out was done, I was accosted with a, ‘As someone who supports free speech you certainly are rather intolerant’.
Well, I really don’t get where (or how) ‘intolerance’ (to free speech) comes into the picture when you decide to stop being friends with someone on Facebook.
Let’s see. I have not,
- stuffed their mouth with cotton, nor duct-taped their mouth shut.
- pulled out their tongue
- threatened/blackmailed them into silence.
- held a gun to their head
- coerced Zuckerberg to remove their content from Facebook.
Then, HOW the hell has their right to free speech been curtailed? Beats me. But, and that’s a very important but, if by freedom of speech they mean the right to dance on the carpet in my drawing room with dirty shoes on, singing loudly (and tunelessly) along to some blaring music which I personally hate to hear, then it will definitely be curtailed by having them evicted from said drawing room which happens to be mine. You see, their right to free speech does not hold within it the right to ram it down my throat and that too standing in MY personal space. Fair, or not?
This is also my answer to those coming along claiming their birthright to the comment space on this blog to spew venom, ‘because you write in a public place’ (their argument, not mine). Hello! The fact that my house faces a public road does not mean you can stick posters all over the wall or cover it with graffiti. The fact that the door is open and there is a mat with ‘Welcome’ on it does not mean you can walk in and choose to piss anywhere you feel like. You gotta take my permission to do that. And you can bet your last rupee on it that the permission to do that will not be forthcoming, not from me. Not ever.
I hope through this allegory I have made clear this little matter of YOUR right to free speech versus MY right to my own space. It is simple actually: You can’t spit on my wall unless I say so. At the same time you can spit all over your own wall all that you like. Me no bash your nose over it. You savvy?
Updated to add:
Here is an earlier post from Bhagwad that essentially says the same thing: Freedom of Expression – Of Course I can Block you Out
©Shail Mohan 2015