So when does expression become punishable?
Noting that freedom of expression isn’t unlimited caught my eye. We think of free speech as unlimited in this country, but it’s not. While you can say whatever to want, it doesn’t mean you can do so without consequences. You can get fired from your job or ostracized for speaking your mind. And there are defamation laws (see: Dominion voting and its lawsuits).
Americans complain about cancel culture, but I see it as a self-regulating method where people need to decide, for themselves, the risk tolerance for opening their mouths.
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-MO, is a perfect example.
He voted against certifying Joe Biden as the next president, which was his right. But as a result, he lost a book deal, was criticized by fellow Republicans and faced calls for his resignation.
Hawley screamed he was the victim of cancel culture when he should be embracing that the American system worked perfectly. He said and took the position he wanted. Those who didn’t agree reacted, as is their right.
Does that mean you should be careful about what you say? Yes, because words have consequences.
The debate we’re having here is an emotional one. “You can’t take action against me for what I say because that violates my free speech rights.” Nah. Not even close. It’s an argument people tend to use when they say something dumb and flail for an excuse.
The debate and court case in Canada is a dangerous one because it can potentially have a chilling effect on speech. If you can get fined for telling a joke, can you get fined for having a debate? For exchanging views a judge might find offensive?
The internet is littered with examples of people in this country who have been fired from their jobs because they’ve said stupid things (Hello, Roseanne Barr). But no one here has ever taken away the right to say those stupid things.
I’d much rather have this system instead of a judge determining what is and isn’t acceptable speech.
Ray Marcano is the interim Ideas and Voices editor for the Dayton Daily News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org