Is It Okay If It Does More Harm Than Good?
I was intrigued by a story I read yesterday about an incident in Florida between two teens. One teen was brandishing a Confederate flag and screaming racial epithets while riding through town in a pick-up. He is white. His grandfather had warned him about his obssession with the flag and told him that he should be careful because he did not understand what it meant. It's true. He didn't. And he ended up shot.
The second teen, the shooter, understoood all too well what the flag represented and freaked out.
I guess the argument could be made that the first guy had every right to do what he did. He was expressing himself in a way he though was appropriate. I guess that's his right, free speech and all, but if in exercising his rights, he offends a huge segment of the population, and in fact, incites violence, well, what then?
And then there is the shooter, who clearly has his own problems, not the least of which is that he is 18 and is walking around with a loaded pistol. To him the flag did not represent free speech. To him it is a hateful symbol of slavery, and he is black.
I'm all for free speech, even though what people have to say often offends me. It seems like those who feel the need to exercise their right visually, on air, or in the streets, have the ultimate goal of persuading others in a big way that they are right, that their view is best. Those more accepting of different perspectives and ideas and points of view are not brandishing bloody posters and waving flags--they're talking and debating.
Protests are great, don't get me wrong, especially if you want to draw attention to your cause and you don't mind the occassional bullet to the chest (he lived) but it might be a good idea to get a grasp on history and educate yourself before you start marching. You and your free speech may do more harm than good.