Does anybody *really* believe in Freedom of Speech?

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I feel compelled to write this, although it will be my last post on the subject (for a good while anyway).
Today, I told somebody I know that an anonymous person on the net had left a very long hideous comment on my blog, which ended thus: “If you have children, I hope they ALL die VERY slowly so YOU can watch them and SUFFER”. This was in response to my Caitlyn Jenner post.

Now, obviously this can only come from a mentally deranged person because, WHO in their right mind would ever say such a thing? I read the whole hateful comment twice (I know, I know) and deleted it. It goes without saying it was never going to make it onto the blog but it did make me feel very uncomfortable reading it. It came from the US, so it wasn’t as if there was an immediate threat – nevertheless, it shook me up a bit to have so much hate directed at me, even if it was from across the pond.

However, what shocked me more was my aforementioned friend’s reaction when I told him about it today.
Word for word, this is what he said: “I’m sorry the trolls have been bombarding you, but you shouldn’t be so opinionated about such things then”.
I was aghast. Basically, what he was saying was this: “You don’t deserve it, but…actually, you do”.

That is something I cannot understand and will not accept. To me, that’s like saying that the journalists from Charlie Hebdo murdered in cold blood in Paris back in January deserved their fate because they were also “too opinionated”. Note that I’m well aware that the fact I got some hateful comments cannot be compared with an assassination, obviously. But there is a definite correlation there which is: as long as you express an opinion, there is always a risk and you can’t really complain about the consequences or whatever comes your way as a result. So, freedom of speech truly doesn’t exist then – and it’s entirely normal and logical that some people should wish a slow death on any hypothetical children I may have, just because I said that Caitlyn Jenner’s photo shoot was a “vanity project”.
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My blog is small, I’m not a power blogger and this blog is my own little place to write about anything I feel like: a place where I can play and indulge my obsession with words, a place where I can express myself freely because there are no expectations, as I do not get paid for the writing I do on here. My views and opinions are not even controversial, so I don’t understand how somebody I know could think that I’m too opinionated and that I only have myself to blame if some deranged mind decides to leave heinous comments on my blog.

I have said it ad nauseam, but I truly don’t mind anybody disagreeing with me, as long as they do it intelligently and can sustain a real discussion. But, in any case, because I write on a public blog, I expect some people to pipe up and tell me that they think I’m wrong. I even expect others to tell me I’m stupid, or jealous, or a hater (I’ve had that too in the last few days). I can even handle pure hate as in that comment I got yesterday. All of this, I can understand and I can cope with, because this is what happens when you put yourself out there, on a public site, even if it’s only a small one – some trolls are always going to be able to find you, unfortunately.

But that somebody I know, somebody who is meant to be a friend (and more or less sensible) should imply that I can’t really complain about the hateful comments because I’m “too opinionated”, that I find hard to handle.
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If people that are meant to be close to me think that way, is it any surprise that a couple of religious fanatics should feel justified to go into a Paris office and proceed to execute journalists for expressing opinions?

This unexpected response from my friend made me realise, once again, that it’s not just religious fanatics and deranged human beings who don’t seem to grasp the concept of freedom of speech, it’s also ordinary people: like your friend, your neighbour, an acquaintance – it’s a hell of a lot of people actually. Does this fact upset anyone else? Because it sure does upset me.

If anybody has time (and is willing) to read the post I wrote a month ago about Freedom of speech, you can do so here:
https://arwenaragornstar.com/2015/05/03/freedom-of-speech-and-satire-are-necessary-in-any-society/

Image credit:rs21.org.uk, paperblog.com and Izquotes.com

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47 thoughts on “Does anybody *really* believe in Freedom of Speech?

  1. I am sorry you got such a nasty message. That is awful! What I dont get is, if readers don’t like it, they should not read it. Your blog is to put your ideas. You did not say or do anything wrong. I agree with you. Freedom of speech, within limits, is the norm these days. I know it is hard to do, but don’t let the awful comments get to you. Anyone capable of writing such a cruel and insipid message must really be an unhappy person. 😘😘😘😘😘😘

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good lord! I had a feeling your stalker wasn’t done with you. I’d report it to WP if you get another such comment. That was a direct threat and not acceptable. As for your friend, in this case I say, “Up yours, pal.” There was nothing inflammatory about your post on Jenner, and even if there was, it’s your blog and you’ve the right to express your opinion on it the way you want. Not cool to not have your friend understand this. One reason I moderate comments on my blog is that it aggravates religious nut-jobs who want to cuss me out. Another reason, and I discovered this far later than I would have liked, is that you have the ability to edit comments that are left on your blog. Thus, me being the instigating cad I am, if I get a ranting comment about how horrid I am, I rewrite the whole thing into a glowing review of me and my blog and then post it. The name, avatar, and blog name of the commenter shows up with my rewritten masterpiece showing as their comment. I’ve had the opportunity to this only once, and believe me, not only was it fun, it stopped the crazy comments dead. Pissing off a-holes is something I get great joy from. Petty, I know, but well, I don’t care. I LIKES it!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you much for all of that, I had NO idea you could edit comments that others leave!! The idea of turning a hate-filled rant into a glowing review is PURE genius! I am SO going to do that in the future, *if* I ever get the chance now. But I would only do it with a mildly irritating troll, not with the type of person who left me that comment last night because that was truly vile and scary and I don’t think I’d even *try* to antagonise them if they can hate me so much already when I’ve done nothing wrong to start with. Can you imagine what they’d do then?
      Thank you again, for the support AND the info! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree. Comments like that one need to be reported to WP. Threatening people and their potential future kids is not cool. This idjit may very well get steamed because you deleted the comment rather than approving it. Scary shit.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This infuriates me to no end – it amazes me the things that some people find the guts to say behind the anonymity of the net.
    Firstly for the troll, I’d give him no attention whatsoever because that is all he is looking for: attention. As long is there is no direct physical threats: delete and forget.
    As for your friend, give him the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes we don’t realize the things that we say when we’re trying to relate to a friend who’s going through a stressful patch. Have him read this post and see if his position changes.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Norm, I haven’t heard anything else from the troll and since I didn’t acknowledge the comment at all, I’m hoping he/she has given up.
      As for my friend, it is good advice, I guess we don’t always realise what impact our comments can have on our friends. Thank you for the support and thank you for the wisdom too – it’s much appreciated 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Oh, my goodness… I wish I could apologize on behalf of all the bloggers in the US… It seems that there are many who are becoming ridiculously rude… and I am sorry… Please keep writing whatever you please… That’s what continues to intrigue your readers… We love it…
    Hope your day is filled with beautiful comments and truly supportive friends…
    Michael

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Michael, that particular blogger might have been from the US but we both know he/she could have been from anywhere, as rudeness does not have a nationality.
      In any case, thank you for the support , I really appreciate it.
      I *usually* am the receiver of beautiful comments and I do have *some* truly supportive friends, so I cannot really complain.
      Have a beautiful evening, and I hope the rest of your week is wonderful too – Nathalie

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I really liked the Orwell quote. As for the commenter, you were much too kind to delete his comment. Would have served him right to have his ignorance exposed. Your piece on Jenner was great. Honest, thoughtful and fair criticism is rare these day. Please don’t let idiot commenters discourage you from expressing your ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the Orwell quote is brilliant, isn’t it?
      Thank you for the support, I have no intention of letting any “idiot” win – I haven’t done anything wrong, so why should I?
      Again, thank you, your comment means a lot to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. If I recall, your position is that you support Jenner’s right to do as she pleases with her body while also holding the nuanced opinion that some of the media attention seemed tacky. (paraphrasing)

    I think that part of the problem is that we have media outlets that take extreme positions as a function of politically correct speech. I’m referring to Fox News and MSNBC.

    We can’t have a sensible discussion in the U.S. until we grow up and stop clinging to cheap dogma.

    I’ve known transgender people my entire life. All of them are brave and all of them are the targets of vicious discrimination.

    If Jenner can ease some of that pain I support him; even as I recognize that there was a touch of tacky to the VF cover.

    Your best strategy with trolls was the strategy you used.

    Never name names. Always ignore personal attacks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fox News actually manages to stun me every time I hear (via other media because I won’t go anywhere near it) some of the rubbish they pass off as news.
      I love this: “We can’t have a sensible discussion in the U.S. until we grow up and stop clinging to cheap dogma” – how true!
      Thank you for reading and for your comment, it’s much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Anais,so sorry that you had someone dump their garbage thoughts onto your blog. I don’t really believe in Freedom of Speech, because it’s not “real” freedom. One is bound to “offend” someone. But this is your space. Please continue speaking your mind, lovely, because that’s what everyone comes here for 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are bound to get opposition and even idiotic comments as a writer. As I said in this post, I accept it and I’m fine with it. But hate speech directed at one’s family is scary, unnecessary and unacceptable.
      Thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. That comment is really awful. I really feel for you.

    Personally I would have approved it (if it was from a WP blogger) then copy/paste it into a new thread (with a link to it) on the WP Forum and ask WP what they are going to do about it. Thousands of bloggers read these threads in the Forum. Publicise the idiot.

    Keep blogging !

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I read the post you wrote about Caitlyn Jenner and did not find it controversial. The community I deal with online is a positive, supporting one, so I forget sometimes who’s lurking out there. It makes one wary. I enjoy the voice of your writing and hope this doesn’t alter it.

    Like

  10. It was a well-thought and a wonderfully written piece. The existence and need of absolute freedom of speech is something I have pondered over so many times and this post really stimulated abd resonated with my thoughts.
    A local religious leader commented this while justifying the Charlie Hebdo attack – “There’s a thin line which differentiates opinion and insult”. I found the words strong, but the mentality sick!
    Insult does not call for murder. If you feel insulted by words or sketches, you have the numerous ways to express that anger in this century! Or better, you could choose to ignore it.
    This also reminds me of a controversial roast video made by an Indian channel which got banned because of obscene language. A veteran actor, when asked his opinion said, “I couldn’t watch the full video because I felt hurt. But that doesn’t give me the right to ban it! Everyone has the power to choose what he sees and that’s enough”.
    I’ll stop rambling on your post now, but thank you for this thought provoking piece 🙂
    Keep up the good work 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading and your very kind words. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the support, it’s comforting to know that there are plenty of people out there who still believe that freedom of speech is vital in any society 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I have a deep respect for people who can make an articulate, intelligent argument – whether or not I agree with their position. It is unfortunate that having an opinion will attract those who aren’t intelligent in their response and will simply resort to being a mean bully.

    For this reason, I chose to steer away from anything remotely controversial … not because I don’t have an opinion, but because my skin is too thin to handle the inevitable meanness. Your experience is a case in point. This would rattle me to the core and I’d be sleepless for days. This is not freedom of speech. It is overt intimidation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I get where you’re coming from and I can’t say hateful comments don’t upset me, because they do, however they anger me a lot more than they upset me. I just can’t accept people trying to “shut me up”, especially when they do so in an idiotic and vile fashion. I don’t believe my opinions are controversial either, which makes me even more determined to keep saying what I want to say when trolls try to intimidate me.
      I just believe that free speech is all important and I’m willing to endure hateful comments in return for my rights to exercise it. I totally respect your position though, nobody has to “put themselves out there” if they don’t want to – nobody has to be an opinionated b***h like me 😉

      Like

      1. LOL – I don’t think you’re an opinionated bitch at all! You make thoughtful and well balanced comments. I respect how articulate and passionate you are in expressing yourself. What I was trying to get at was that I envy your confidence 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I like this very much. As much as: “If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything”.
      I wish I actually knew for sure who said it, opinions are divided as to who it actually was.

      Like

  12. Trolls always seem to their best to chase some of the great bloggers away, please don’t let them do that to you PA… continue to post what you think. It is why we all keep coming back. And don’t mind the trolls… delete and begone! That’s what I do with them 😀 Great post and wonderful thought-provoking questions asked.

    Liked by 1 person

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