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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Define Freedom of Speech for me. What does it mean to you?

What it does not mean to me is haphazard spamming (aka forwarding) email messages to everyone in your email inbox with political propaganda.

Still scratching your head on how to answer my intro question. Fear not, you don't have to define it. Our Constitution has already done so in the First Amendment.

Now, I have religious and spiritual beliefs, and I am political in my own right (no, I don't claim any particular party affiliation, I look at candidates individually not by their party). Still, I don't spout my beliefs or attempt to persuade individuals to see things my way, even though I really, really want to sometimes ;). I firmly believe that individuals must make up their own minds based on actual-no-bones-about-it facts, their personal experiences, and their respective spiritual and cultural values. That being said, I will share my opinions, but attempt to do so cautiously and fairly. I try not to judge, and I strive to provide accuracy when providing information on a religious or political issue. That is, when I discuss those two things, which is rare.

I will add that I do not typically discuss these things with friends. Let me rephrase that, unless I am 100% certain of two things, I will not discuss these matters with friends. These things are:

(1) I am knowledgeable of my friend's beliefs and know where they may stand on certain issues; and,
(2) Whether or not they are sensitive and whether or not such discussion is welcome.

I like my friends. I prefer to keep them. While we may not see eye to eye on things, that doesn't mean we cannot be friends. Still, if I don't know their perspectives, I think it's best to talk about other vitally important issues such as shoe shopping, alliteration, how angelic my children are, and, of course, favorite colors.

All that being said, I think most of my friends and family members know where I stand or maybe they don't and just don't want to discuss it themselvse. Regardless, it doesn't matter. Unless, they are running against me for some extremely affluent/public office, then I suppose it might matter a teensy bit.

Recently, an acquaintance sent me an email. It was a mass one and she added her two cents in. At first, I shrugged it off because she is one of those who is a chronic-forwarder. You know the type! They said you everything from "FWD: FWD: FWD: Let's win a million dollars together by sending this to a trillion people" and, even, "FWD: FWD: FWD: FWD: FWD: FWD: I haven't even read this but I'm going to forward it anyway". These people NEED serious intervention. In fact, there should be Email Forwarders Anonymous (EFA) group for them. Oh, look I just started a blog -----

So, if this applies to you, please join in the discussion. Everything will be held against you and I will forward everything I can to your email address as a way of therapy. Go ahead, it's like shock therapy.

I'm digressing way off here, anyway.....

I actually viewed the clip (I think I'm now dumber because of it). The video was utterly ridiculous and I can't believe someone wasted time (like I am now discussing it) creating it.

First of all, it was evident that said acquaintance had assumed I shared her views, otherwise she might not have shared it. Of course, perhaps she didn't give a hoot. I believe she thought I was hoping she would show me the light though, and forgot I had a brain. Or, perhaps, she was too stuck in her own ways to consider that others can see through such propaganda and do not tolerate the perpetuation of half truths and misinformation. Whatever her motive, she was not using her head, maybe it was located in another body part at that particular moment. I don't need to be educated, that's what I read gossip magazines and watch faux news for. I'm politically brilliant!

After providing the video clip link for the email recipients, said acquaintance warned readers to get their little hankies ready because it was going to be heart-wrenching. She then urged them to vote because what they would see would change their minds or at least get them to vote.

My problems with this are:

(1) Spamming (STOP please) (I have since rectified that problem as she is blocked);
(2) She assumed people the recipients weren't voting (okay, so many don't vote);
(3) Maybe by "not voting" she meant "not voting for my guy";
(4) She believes we are putting are lives, our beliefs, our everything into the one guy's hands, if he gets elected.

C'mon. Seriously? I'm all for supporting your party/guy/gal/what have you, but I refuse to believe all is lost if one person gets elected. I may not agree with the values, platform, voting record of one candidate, but I'm not going to give up all hope if he gets elected. And, despite what you may have heard, I will not move to France either. I may just piss and moan for four-eight years ;). Nevertheless, I like to think I have common sense (even if just a tiny bit). I like to believe (call me silly) that we elect members of Congress to also represent the beliefs of our Nation's people. We are not a country run by a dictatorship, despite what people believe.

As is my habit, I'm rambling. I do that. I apologize. Can you tell this acquaintance irked me. No? Oh, well then, here's why I'm so irked:

I actually responded to her. I stated that I respected her values and beliefs but advised that she not spread unsolicited emails presenting false information. I meant that. I do respect her values and even share some of them. Nonetheless, we don't agree on EVERYTHING. That being said, I don't think everyone should believe the same things (see, I'm smart) and I'm all for sticking to your guns and following your faith/ethics, if that's what is right for you. I also reminded her that the Commander-in-Chief does not unilaterally make decisions for the Nation, which I know many people disagree with, but I'm okay with that. It's my belief (take it or leave it).

So, after all that and some other words from me (no they weren't rude or 4-lettered), here is the response I got (more or less):

She came back surprised that I responded since I don't talk politics. Ummm, excuse me. Pardon me for sounding like a five year old, but she started it. She said she shared the clip because of the supposed atrocities represented therein (no, not in those words). Then she declared, "When I go and vote I want to know if the person I vote for Commander in Chief is one that I will stand up for, I don't want to be wishy-washy I want to be 100% positive that this is the person I want leading my family and friends. I know when I vote I am voting for their beliefs as well, and if this is a type of belief one would have than to each their own but I don't want any part of it. (I would like to think all people take this stance when voting. Nevertheless, it seems she assumed most people need unsolicited political issue education.)

Foolish acquaintance then stated: I was just getting something out that I feel everyone should have the right to know. Let’s see what's the first amendment? Oh yeah, Freedom of Speech...

Well, my goodness. Maybe I should be thanking her. Maybe I should have just read the email and not responded and just changed my thinking completely. After all apparently she is covered by the First Amendment and has just shared with me amazing information. Since I live under a rock, I might not have been privy to that sort of stuff. Also, I got the impression that because I didn't agree with her, Freedom of Speech didn't apply to me. Alright, maybe that's a big assumption, but when deal with an ass, you can assume things, right?

I should have said, "Good for you. Hooray! I hope you keep sharing all this misinformation because apparently the First Amendment allows you to spam folks with fiction purported to be fact, right?", but instead, I responded:

I appreciate your values. However, you were sending something political that was slanted. I can't stand by without a response. This is why I actually replied the way I did. I feel that once it's out there and in part directed at me (as part of an email recipient), it's up for discussion. You shared your beliefs in a way by passing it on, and I merely responded.

You are certainly entitled to your political opinions and values...
this is the reason I rarely discuss politics. My intention was not to hurt your feelings. It was to provide another side and to address the matter at hand. Freedom of Speech, right?

Sorry, perhaps that was snarky of me. I am just about fed-up with individuals feeling they need to share crap that is not true. Use your brain people. Disagree with someone, but don't make up a bunch of BS and try to tell me it's fact. Of course, if you have something you MUST share with me and you can back it up with facts, I'm all for listening (seriously), even if it contradicts my viewpoints. I'm open minded and I like to learn, that's just what I do. I just don't have patience for ignorance and mindless followers.

At any rate, before you hit that send button, before you feel like you NEED to enlighten people about the "truth", please make sure you have our facts straight or that at least be prepared to have a response. Because that recipient just may come back with their side and might even tell you that *gasp* what you sent was asinine.

I know many of my readers come from various cultural, religious and politic walks, so please know that this isn't directed at you (of course, if you are her, you will know - LOL). I am trying to vent and still be humorous. Maybe I didn't pull that off so well. I enjoy reading and learning about various political stances, I do (honest). Just don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining. I already have kids who try and do that stuff and they get put in time-out.

All politics and foolishness aside, I hope you are having a wonderful summer and that you don't have to deal with idiots in your inbox.


Scout's Honor said...

HeH! Can I tell you how much I hate forwards? Hate 'em.

So I had a friend, another military wife, that I kept contact with over the years. She was a habitual politics forwarder which was funny because we never talked politics when we lived across the street from each other. I guess it took distance for her to send this crap....errr...I mean use her 1st amendment.

So I finally became sick of one that said so many lies and misinformation that I replied.

Ummmm, I replied to ALL.

And I exposed each line with websites from official congress sites, reputable news sources, and, yes, even Snopes. The gist was the draft was imminent and it was the Republican led congress that was going to pass it any minute. It turned out that it was a grandstanding Democrat from New York that proposed the legislation to call attention to the number of his minority constituents who had died. No, no draft.

She was beyond livid and I lost a friend that day. She was furious at being called for passing on lies. My reply was actually very respectful and matter of fact. I think really she was embarrassed for being called on for sending something and saying she "fact" checked it first when it was a load of shite.

Was I wrong? Ummm. yes. I just was so sensitive at that point and having been in the military as has my husband, the thought of fear-mongering people into thinking we will move from a volunteer army inflamed me.

Today? Only my Dad send the crappy forwards. He didn't protect my email and one of his ultra religious crap pot buddies started emailing me forwards too. Never met the guy. So I did the same thing. Replied all. He shut up real quick.

As for my Dad, I sent him an "error message" and official looking messages saying I had subscribed to forward blocker and he was listed as a "serial forwarder" and if he didn't "cease and desist", his email would be permanently blocked. I sent it to him 20 times in a row. He freaked out. Thought it was some sort of virus. Truly I had asked him at least 20-30 times to stop sending me this stuff and it never worked. This time? Heh. No forwards from my Dad.

Call me evil.

Scout's Honor said...

hey, I think I'll post this on my blog. Hoping my Dad doesn't find my blog, ever!