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Does Freedom of Speech Allow Being a Jerk?

Candid Commentary CJ Clarkby CJ Clark, Columnist & Featured Contributor

[su_dropcap style=”flat”]F[/su_dropcap]OR ANYONE THAT QUESTIONS the freedom enjoyed by the American people, I have a bone to pick with you. Perhaps it will come down to a matter of semantics – what I consider freedom is not what you consider freedom.

But let’s be real here. Freedom to do anything and everything is not feasible. There have to be laws that have been established by majority to define the parameters of actions. Otherwise, we would have no recourse when someone harms another.

For a country with so many different people, cultures, roles and perspectives, we have the inalienable right to say what we want. That is guaranteed by the First Amendment of our Constitution.

As did retiring Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno in a recent interview with Jennifer Griffin

“’It’s frustrating to watch it,’” Odierno said. “’I go back to the work we did in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 and we got it to a place that was really good. Violence was low, the economy was growing, politics looked like it was heading in the right direction.’”

freedom speech flag“’If we had stayed a little more engaged, I think maybe it might have been prevented,’” he said. “’I’ve always believed the United States played the role of honest broker between all the groups and when we pulled ourselves out, we lost that role.’”

Now think about this. Here is a top military commander calling the President’s actions wrong. Granted he was a gentleman about it, but nevertheless he disagreed with the President.

Had he made such a statement in Russia, or in other countries who do not hold freedom of speech dear, he might have lost his pension and ended up in Siberia, as did Khodorkovsky and Berezovsky.

But he said what he believed while at the same time remaining civil and because of that, credible.

He could have been a jerk and used harsh words and tone, and he still would be protected by our First Amendment. We have had a lot of jerks lately hide behind the First Amendment to justify their “jerkiness.” Mr. Trump pops immediately to mind. As does those who continued to use the phrase “hands up, don’t shoot” even after the facts emerged. As does Kanye West, who dissed Taylor Swift and Beck publicly at the Grammy’s. We have citizens (I guess they are?) stomping on the American flag in protest of [whatever].

Our Constitutional Freedom of Speech even protects those who make fun of others, as with the Phoenix “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest” in May of 2015.

So that’s the law of our land. Even jerks have the right to say what they want.

Our Constitution does not protect respecting others’ differences. That is left to civilization to teach respect, or if not respect, at least tolerance of those with different views than our own. It is up to parents to foster and nurture respect for others. It is up to our communities to establish and uphold consequences for those who show disrespect or intolerance. It is up to our schools, our media and our government to provide factual and balanced information. Well, so much for that, I guess.

Hiding behind a law for protection when basic civility says don’t do that is childish, chicken and cowardly.

General Odierno could have blasted Obama. Instead he showed that he was a civilized human being.

So far, Donald Trump has blasted just about everyone, including a former POW who endured unimaginable pain and suffering on behalf of our freedom.

Can anyone tell me why Donald Trump is the front runner?


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CJ Clark
CJ Clark
EXPLORING issues beyond the sound bites of today’s news coverage and challenging the status quo. It’s about questions, issues and answers. And it’s about time …

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