Sometimes I wonder what country we live in. Oh how blessed it would be to be able to go through an entire day without stumbling across another report of yet another chip whittled away from the ‘last great hope of mankind.’ I know there are those who live such lives. They go about their day-to-day business unaware that their freedoms are constantly under assault. I wonder why they are so apathetic, and the only logical assumption I can come up with is because of the overwhelming burden of awareness can very nearly strip you of your hope that the next generation will be left a better world than was possessed by the prior.
Every day, another page of history is written. There is a great question that must be confronted by every soul who walks the face of the earth. While your name may not be one that merits a mention in the history books read by students; will your blood, sweat, and tears be part of the ink that is left for future generations to look upon and learn from?
History is often vague and mentions only the key players. It seldom has time to examine the every day life of the individual. No, the primary readers of the history of the individual will be those we directly leave behind – our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and so on will either know only a name, or they may know the thoughts of their forbearers if they had the foresight to leave something of who they are in a tangible medium. This, I think shall be the motivation for my blog. It might not reach a following of hundreds, thousands, or more. However, I know that I will have left something behind that perhaps somebody might be able to say, “He was an every day student of history. He contributed an experience and an insight into the happenings of his day that extends beyond the simple who, what, when, and where that is covered in history books.
With this motivation in mind, I move to the event that I felt to comment about. A police officer has been fired for allegedly posting a racist and vitriolic rant regarding our Vacationer In Chief, President Barack Obama. Heaven knows, and I am sure from the prior sentence you, dear reader, may derive that I have no love for our present president. I see his policy and desire to ‘fundamentally transform the United States of America,” as a desire to destroy what little is left of the founding principles of America – those principles being liberty, freedom of association, rights to property, the right to be secure in our persons, the right to religious freedom (both establishment and exercise), as well as free speech. The last is the crux of the disturbance I see in the article mentioned above.
This unnamed police officer saw fit to make some comments on Facebook. Yes, they were racist. Yes they were vitriolic. Yes, they displayed a high level of malice toward the president of the United States. But from what was reported, I saw nothing threatening in his words. This police officer expressed a wish for the imminent death of the president, but made no threat that he would carry personally carry out this wish.
But I am going out on a tangent. Long ago, our founders knew that one of the greatest threats to freedom is the inability of a nation’s citizenry to speak freely. Words are powerful. The old rhyme, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ is far from the truth. The power of one voice to become many is a threat to a tyrant. So, it is very little wonder that the very first amendment to the Constitution of the United States was one that establishes the protection of speech.
Once upon a time, it wasn’t uncommon to have passionate individuals find a public venue in which to vocalize their thoughts and ideas. They would find a way to elevate themselves above the crowd so as to be easily seen and heard. Often they would use a soap box for this purpose. Thus the origination of the phrase, “on my soapbox.’
Today, it is far easier to find a public forum and no soap box is needed. All you need is a computer, an internet connection, and a public space like Facebook in order to espouse your beliefs. You have the opportunity to reach tens, thousands, perhaps even millions with incredible ease. The only problem comes when the wrong person hears or, in the case of this police officer, sees what you have written and then makes it their personal mission to make sure you know that such ideas are not tolerated.
It’s so ironic that tolerance is so often touted by those who feel discriminated against, abused, or offended and so show their own lack of tolerance for views outside their own. They forget that tolerance is a two-way street. I must tolerate that your ideas differ from mine, and you must allow me the same grace. You may think that President Obama is the second coming of Jesus Christ but that thought process does not supersede my view that he is the devil incarnate, assuming that such is my view.
The bottom line is that this police officer has the right to express his personal views on a private Facebook page without fear of reprisal. He was not acting in any official capacity from anything I have read, and I took the time to read a few different perspectives on this article. While on the clock, I agree that any police officer should maintain the highest degree of moral character and integrity; but when it comes to his personal conduct outside of his official capacity, he has the right to express his ideas as freely as any other citizen of the United States should have. The question if someone can be fired for making racist comments on a personal and private Facebook page, what can’t they be fired for?
Edited to Add: And if the police officer wasn’t pop culturay enough for you. I just read that Phil Roberts of Duck Dynasty has just been suspended for his remarks regarding homosexuality in GQ magazine.
Yes, the First Amendment gives you the right to be a homophobe, too.