So I’m going to ramble a wee bit about “free speech”.
I use it. Some might even say I abuse it. But I can’t live without it. When I was in China* I was going stir crazy by the fact that I couldn’t say anything, nor did I have an avenue to do so (access to Facebook and Twitter, for example). Every time I opened my mouth, on such issues as “How ’bout that Dalai Lama?” and “So how do those government officials get elected, anyway?” I was awkwardly hushed up immediately, lest some government official catch wind of my shenanigans and goings-on and arrest us all.
So “free speech” and the Internet. People say some fuck-stupid shit, and it might make my blood boil, but if there is one thing I’d fight to the death thing in terms of American ideals, it’s their right to say it. Even if it is fuck-stupid shit. Really, if anything, that’s one thing that bugs me a little bit about the current free speech policies in Germany (though you have to admit it, the Germans kind of earned it).
That said, free speech is always a matter of personal judgment. In my country, one has the right to say something to the effect of, oh, “Danes smell like melted rubber and burning ass hair.” Before anyone gets up in arms, allow me to say that I don’t share that attitude. Can’t say I’ve ever even met a Dane. But, people have the right to say this, they just also have to take the responsibility to own it. They might say these things on a venue such as the Internet, and accept the possibility that a legion of fresh-smelling Danes might come after them with wooden shoes** and Hans Christian Andersen books.
So when I feel like my right to free speech is in question, most of the time I stay quiet about it, but it might irritate me. Of course, as I said, one must take responsibility for the things they say, but I remember during the Nostalgia Chick contest there was a lot of to-do regarding my dirty mouth, something that no one ever questioned about Doug. But I reserve the right to say those things that to some are offensive, such as fuck, retarded, and so on. A couple of weeks ago on Twitter, and here on my blog comments, I got a comment from a woman who is the mother of a special needs child, telling me that she enjoyed my videos, but she thought I was too smart to say “retarded”, and that I should understand that some people don’t appreciate using that word all willy-nilly.
I suppose to me, when people say shit that makes me angry, it’s when they do it out of ignorance. I’m all for making jokes about things one shouldn’t make jokes about, as long as they do it to a point. Dark humor should be used to point out some troubling societal norm, but too often people use it just as a callous way to shock others. I think this might be the origin of the word “retarded” to describe something extremely stupid.
I suppose in my case, I get very irritated when people make rape jokes for the sake of making them, rather than pointing out the troubling commonness of it all. Similarly abortion jokes often irritate me when made out of complete ignorance and lack of empathy. Incestuous Southerner jokes, gee, aren’t you creative? My brother and I didn’t even get to third base.*** When something directly applies to you, it makes you more sensitive, and of course you’re the person that’s hurt the most by people’s callousness and ignorance.
I will always fight for my right and the right of others to use words like “retarded”, make rape jokes and so on, all in wild ignorance, because if you have nothing else left in the world, at least you have the freedom of your mind and thoughts. That said, responsibility must be taken, and in my case I admit I was saying that word thoughtlessly. In my own way acting out of ignorance like other people so often do. So for that, I apologize, and to anyone else I’ve offended with my dirty mouth, I apologize, but only if the offending comment was one about which I have no working knowledge. As I’ve said to so many others, I reserve the right to make jokes about rape and abortion, creepy Internet porn, alcoholism and so on. Sometimes you just earn it. 😉
*Like a month ago, and for a tour, so it weren’t no big deal.
**Dutch, I know, but I couldn’t think of anything else that was distinctly Danish besides… well… danishes.
***I don’t have a brother. That I know of.