Tag Archives: gently disagreeing with others

Facebook as a Free Speech Zone!

25 Nov

A couple of my posts this week have pushed me in a further direction.  Sometimes there is a story behind the story . . .

First, there is the post on measuring our words when we speak, particularly when we write something online, because sometimes the context/inflection, etc. can be lacking in online communications.  That is one occupational hazard of employing the written word!

The caution there is to remember, even when disagreeing with someone, that he is still created in the image of God and must be spoken to with dignity.  That never ceases to be the case, no matter how heated the argument.  

And then I wrote the post on the proposed plan to close the military commissaries and, yes, I was angry when I wrote.  Yet, I believe I succeeded in voicing my view without flaming any other human being.  Even the president/executive branch of our government, from whence so many of these “good idea fairy” thoughts seem to flow.  

But now I want to tie the two strands together and say that there is a time when one must speak gently and tactfully, but one must speak.  

In a country with free speech, no one has the right to claim the floor indefinitely, never letting anyone else speak or voice a viewpoint.  

Yet I see that conviction every day, and on both sides of the political aisle.  Folks who only want to keep shouting their viewpoints, talking/shouting past other folks who are doing the same thing with the opposite viewpoint!

I love the old saying that you can freely speak your views in America, but you have to find your own audience.  

Too many people think they can walk up to a conversation in progress, either in real life or on social media, and divert everyone’s attention to them.  

Well . . . no.  

If I put something on my Facebook wall and you either have an opposing viewpoint or want to go off on a tangent, I will allow that to a certain extent.  I will never drop you as a Facebook friend or block you or anything like that, because I believe in free speech and in being kind.

If, however, it becomes apparent that you are trying to commandeer my wall to get a readymade audience for your viewpoint (maybe you like my FB friends better than your own, or there are more of them . . .), I will probably comment to that effect.  I will probably say that your behavior is inappropriate and try to discourage it.  

That doesn’t usually happen on my wall, but I have seen it elsewhere and it is ugly.  

A young person I know who has a strong Christian faith had an atheist relative go off on a rant about superstition and faith on her FB page just last week.  In a private discussion with said relative, I asked him whether he also goes into someone’s private living room and lectures them on their leather furniture on behalf of animal rights activists.  See, since our FB pages are kind of like our online living rooms, his behavior to my young friend was very similar to walking into someone’s living room and denouncing their furniture that way.  Uncalled for! Of course, he countered that I had no right to speak to him that way, even privately. And I said when he spoke up on my friend’s wall, he automatically invited comments, like it or not.

Someone else’s relative went on a rant about the Democratic party restoring everyone’s pet funding sources, in response to an article about the commissaries being closed.  That relative went so far as to say, “Vote Democrats in and you will get back your commissaries and everything else the Republicans have taken from you.”  I answered that:  1) I could not ever vote for a party that has the right to abortion as a central plank, even if that means losing my commissary and 2) since I earned the right to my commissary via 27 years of service to my country, I don’t expect to see any political party holding that right hostage in order to buy my vote.  

Honestly, that rant reminded me of when the slaves were freed and political parties tried to buy their votes (before they were educated) by promising to give them the inalienable rights that God gave them at birth.  Very insulting when a party does that, ya know?  Even if we are not talking inalienable rights but rather rights I have earned via my military service.  Don’t turn around and tell me your party will give me what is already mine by right of my military service!!!   

And, of course, in so many situations when we push back a bit and voice, gently but firmly, the idea that we don’t agree with some of this nonsense, we get the online equivalent of a slammed door as the person says, “You have no right to talk to me like this.”  

Oh, yeah?  So that person is allowed to throw an idea out there and go on a rant, saying whatever he wishes, but no one is allowed to disagree with him?  And he is not only talking like that, but doing it on someone else’s FB page, not even his own?  

Wow, I would call that inappropriate. And I have said as much (to the response of that door being slammed!). 

There is a time to speak out, gently but firmly.  If someone slams the door, it is obvious that they don’t wish to be involved in dialogue.  And that is okay . . .

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