Friday, September 09, 2016

Do Americans Really Believe In Free Speech ?

These charts are made from information in a recent YouGov Poll -- done on August 31st and September 1st of a random national sample of 1,000 adults, with a margin of error of 4.7 points.

Frankly, they disappoint me. Because looking at the results I have to doubt that Americans really believe in free speech.

Note that a majority of Americans as a whole, and in all groups but one (Republicans), see racism against Blacks and other people of color as a serious problem in the United States. And it's not even close, with 66% saying it's a serious problem and only 35% saying it is not -- a huge gap of 31 points.

That's a good thing. Americans need to wake up and accept that we have serious problems, and then act to eliminate them -- especially those race problems in our institutions (schools, justice system, etc.). But then you have the bottom two charts.

It seems that 57% of Americans disapprove of Colin Kaepernick's protest of racism by sitting during the national anthem -- and that same 57% say it is never appropriate to protest by sitting during the national anthem.

They are wrong. It is always appropriate to protest injustice in this country, and that includes sitting during the national anthem or burning the American flag. I know some will say that people have died for that song or flag, but that's ridiculous. They died to protect freedoms -- like freedom of speech. And freedom of speech must include things that you may find offensive (like sitting during the anthem or burning the flag), or it is not free speech at all, but just permitted speech.

And sadly, that seems to be what a majority of Americans want -- permitted speech. They want to give lip service to the idea of free speech, but don't want any speech to happen that they don't approve of.

You don't have to agree with Kaepernick. You are as free to deny that racism and oppression exist as he is free to protest against it. It may be sick and immoral to be a racist creep, but in this country you have the freedom to be one, and to speak in favor of it.

But don't claim to be a believer in free speech, and then condemn Kaepernick (or anyone else) when they have the courage to actually engage in those free speech rights. Oppose ideas, but always defend free speech (even when it is offensive to you).

1 comment:

  1. I think it's been nearly 50 years since I stood for the anthem. I stopped during the Viet Nam (not) war, continued during the civil rights demonstrations and the shooting of MLK and Bobby Kennedy. It's a fucking flag and a fucking (racist) song. I'm an old woman now but haven't changed my mind. It's not unpatriotic to sit.


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