Friday, October 22, 2010

On Free Speech

I wonder... If I went into one of my classes and told my students that, actually, Japanese people really creep me out, and in fact it was all I could do from throwing up every time I was in their presence... I wonder, if my university fired me, would that be a violation of my right to free speech?

I mean, don't I have the right both to express my ideas *and* to get paid for them?

[DISCLAIMER: I don't have many readers here, but the few who do drop by have exceptional reading skills. For the reading-challenged: If + past tense verb generally indicates a second conditional sentence, referring to an *unreal* situation in the present. Please take note and then shut the fuck up.]


  1. Okay, I can tell that you're well into Friday night's stimulants there...

    If you are propounding an argument, if one is a paid employee I'm not sure you get to say whatever you d.w.p. on an employer's premises at all times. In fact, the people that answer the phone at AT & T are required to say "How can I make this a great day for you?", or something like that, which is probably not spontaneous (although I think it is abusive language, if passive-aggressive abusive language).

    Moving to the more general, though, and with what's going on in the U.S., certain parties that repeatedly use the right to free speech condemn themselves in the court of public opinion (witchcraft, "That's in the the constitution"?), so on balance I'm going to have to go with free speech as a good thing.

  2. Hi Susan,
    I'm only saying that one can have and express whatever opinions one likes. That should be a right. One, however, doesn't have the right to be paid for those opinions. It might be my opinion (but it isn't) that the Japanese are offensive. Does that mean my university is bound to allow me to express this opinion to my students (who are Japanese)? Of course not.
    So, when some wingnut gets fired from NPR or whatever because he's said something like "Muslims suck," I don't see this as a free speech issue. He can have that opinion, but nobody is obliged to pay him for it.

  3. Agreed. Free speech just means you don't get put in jail. I'm waiting for a comment to post on another blog where I argued from your point of view, I will email the link when I get it. In this case, it's about art, and I get very fed up with artists being bad boys/girls OR being PC - neither of which has to do with art/Art.

  4. I like Susan's phrase, "passive-aggressive abusive language". I've been fortunate enough to be on vacation from this phenomenon all month, but on Monday I go back to work. Honestly, I'd rather deal with outright abusive language, that way we could really get to the bottom of the problem!! I'm not saying to curse and throw things in the workplace, but let's at least tell the truth! solve the problem and then get past it. sp

  5. Susanna,
    I agree, it's a lot easier to get things done when all the cards are on the table.