Thursday, June 20, 2019

21st century Speech

Former Parkland student, Kyle Kashuv, had been accepted into Harvard University until someone posted a racist text he had sent at age 16 online. I would say he was just being bombastic with his group of friends, but in any case, he has apologized. After that text became public, Harvard withdrew their acceptance of his college application.

Conservatives are angry at Harvard because Kyle gained notoriety after the Parkland shooting when he became a conservative voice for the 2nd Amendment and other conservative views. Those conservative views combined with the racist text is clearly why Harvard revoked their acceptance. I understand the anger because this was obviously based, in part, on his political views, but not the overreaction. Maybe Kyle can get the prestigious university to change its mind, but there are many other schools if they don't.

I prefer to talk about choices. We live in an age where the youth of today are putting their entire lives online. When I want to look at the photos of my life, I have to dig through a box of printed photos with writing on the back. People of today only have to log onto Facebook to see their life through photos and text. People don't think twice about posting photos of their young children online where anyone can view them, even pedophiles.

Actress Bella Thorne was playing around and took nude photos of herself. Like every iPhone user, every photo was transmitted to the cloud. Apple decided, for some odd reason, their phones didn't need a memory card to store such photos. Because all saved data on iPhones is transmitted to the cloud (a computer online), it is at a higher risk of being hacked. Bella isn't the first famous person to have their data stolen from the cloud. Those nude photos were stolen and she was blackmailed. The actress chose to post the photos, herself, to take back power from the blackmailer. Some would like to place part of the blame on Bella, but I say she had no idea of the risk. Young people of today have been brainwashed to place full trust in their devices and corporations like Apple.

People go to places like Twitter and say some of the most outrageous things, sometimes even threatening people. They often do this because of the anonymity, but they usually don't realize how over time they reveal details of their life. I see people posting photos of their cars, or photos from the window of their home or workplace. They will eventually reveal themselves to someone they trust, who will eventually pass this information onto others, purposely or accidentally.

There are employers who ask to see the social media of new hires. They know that's the best way to learn who these strangers are as a person. There are people who were refused a job because the drunk selfies posted, thought to be funny at the time, were a negative for the Human Resources representative.

There is a huge world out there that doesn't know you, but can only view you through eyes filtered through internet data. A school like Harvard is well known for it's progressive views. Being a conservative, in itself, could be a reason to not be accept as an applicant. Add that to personal text or social media posts, a school like Harvard might reject your application.

You can scream free speech all you want, but all institutions are made up of people and they are filled with biases. Twenty years ago you could hide your personal beliefs well enough that an employer didn't notice, or didn't care, as long as you weren't annoying coworkers. I know people who were reprimanded because they constantly preached religion or political views to coworkers. There is no such thing as free speech in the workplace, school, or private property.

We only have a right to free speech in the public square, and only against government. The Supreme Court has broaden that somewhat, but for the most part it still stands true. The public square might require a permit for you to speak out against government. There are always restrictions to speech. You must ask for permission to address the town council or Congress.

As long as you place your opinions and life history online, you can be sure, at some point, you will pay a price. Imagine if your boss, or potential boss, is gay. He/she come across your social media and sees that you have posts calling gay people depraved and abominations. Do you really think you will be treated the same afterwards? If you believe that, you're naive. Even when free speech applies, it also comes with consequences. You must be prepared to pay those consequences. As much as I detest Chelsea Manning as a person and for the things she's done, I admire the fact she is willing to go to jail for what she believes.

Speech never comes without costs. Although the Constitution gives me the right to write this, that doesn't mean some people won't verbally attack me. I've been blogging for more than a decade and I've had a lot of harsh things said to me over the years. I was even investigated once. I've been banned from left and right wing forums for my speech, simply because the owners disagreed. I was once active on's forum. They eventually shutdown the forum because they didn't like my, and four others', position on politics. They could have banned us, which they tried, but because of conflict among their staff, those bans were never upheld.

Never forget that the speech and photos you place online can and will be used against you someday. When online, act as if you are talking to a group of strangers in person. There are ways to get your point across without being harsh and rude. Some like to say they are just speaking the truth, I always detested the left's use of “your truth,” but I have come to understand it's meaning. When you think you're just saying the truth, you're just telling “your truth”. If you've ever said you don't care about someone's feelings as long as you are telling your truth, you should do some self reflection .

21st century speech is far different from 20th century speech. Individuals like me can be heard by far more people today than just a few decades ago. The speech and photos you post today can do you great harm in the future. Stop and think before posting.

Update 6/20/19:

The day after posting this I learn that 72 Philadelphia police officers have been placed on desk duty after after a probe discovered 300 officers had made racist or offensive posts online. Internal Affairs is investigating each incident and some believe there will be firings.

Some are screaming free speech, but we know police are under heavy scrutiny for some of their actions. If a police force has racist or prejudiced officers, they must be fired. This incident speaks to the very thing I've been saying, speech isn't without consequences. There is a reason our parents taught us about having manners while in public.

Your employer will always put the business first. A business must present a good face to the public. Employees are often seen as the face of a company. If that face is a racist, people will assume the entire company is racist or bigoted. If these officers were being punished for speaking out against the police department or government, they would be covered by the 1st Amendment. You have the right to say what you please online, but there is no protection from consequences.

Someone brought a UK case to my attention where a boy was kicked out of class for saying there were only two genders. He didn't like it when the teacher talked about multiple genders. The boy became angry and disrupted the class, according to the Daily Mail. Conservatives are upset with with this because they agree with the boy. What they don't understand, there is no right to speech in the United Kingdom and in the USA there is no right to speech in a classroom.

All speech comes with risks and we must weigh those risks before speaking. Those police officers and the student clearly didn't weigh those risk. I suspect the courts will get involved concerning the police officers because racist and offensive speech is subjective. What's racist and offensive to one person isn't to another. Because police officers are government employees the rules of free speech might apply differently to them and the department. This is going to be interesting to watch play out in the courts.

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