10/06/2034 7:14 AM ET

OPINION

No, Your Speech Is Not Free

Brian Erlett
Writer, cigar man, adventurinho

CC0 1.0 Woman With Blue Eyes Putting Her Index Finger in Her Mouth by unknown author | Writer image: CC BY 4.0 Headshot by Mike DelGaudio | Images were cropped. Images used for illustration purposes only.
Sometimes, certain people just need to zip it.
Your speech is not free. It has never been free. It never will be free. No, our forefathers did not die for your right to speak your mind at will.

Don't believe me? Ever hear of yelling "fire" in a crowded theater? It can cause a stampede, which can be dangerous. People can be hurt.

Yesterday's arrest of six religious extremists (they call themselves Christians) on the streets of Seattle, provoked some measure of outrage among their cavemen bros. Cries of, "Freedom of speech!" were heard from the Space Needle, to Tacoma, to Alabama.

It is reported by the Post-Intelligencer that the four men and two women were engaging random people on the street in discussion on "religious matters" (that's an Alabaman's phrase which means "actively trying to guilt into converting"). According to several onlookers, the accused were spouting such rubbish as there being only one way to God, and an afterlife of torment and misery for those who reject his son (Jesus).

It's enough to make one want to hum the "Battle Hymn of the Republic". Maybe in reverse.

You may have your speech in your home. You may have your speech in your church. You may NOT harass me on my way to work with your ridiculous notions of a sadistic god who sacrifices children, who rejects LGBTQ people, and who thinks women should be second-class citizens (so they can go to heaven and presumably be second-class citizens there). You may not spew your easily refutable, intolerant bigoted garbage within earshot of me.

I'm glad the police arrested them. I'm told a mob converged, and that a few blows were snuck in while the bracelets were being applied. Good. Maybe some of them hit hard enough in the head to do some good.

Speech is only free if it's productive, constructive, and non-damaging. It's only free if it doesn't put people in boxes which make them want to commit suicide.

If the latest trends from our Christian friends are to be believed, transableists and trans-species Americans will not go to heaven. This shaming tactic will have the inevitable effect of forcing these Americans into the sort of crippling fear that Christians have used for centuries against those considered the "other".

In previous decades it was Blacks. Immigrants. Gay people. Transgenders/transsexuals. Now it's another group. These people's speech is absolutely NOT free. Not when it damages people.

They're just a bunch of people yelling "fire" in a crowded theater.
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