The Problem With “Free Speech”

I always like to see Kathy Griffin do well. I especially enjoy it when she pokes fun at the “A-list” celebrities, even if she’s using that to make herself into a sort of celebrity.  HOWEVER, check this shit out:

http://www.atheists.org/action/alert-13-sep-2007.html (http://www NULL.atheists NULL.org/action/alert-13-sep-2007 NULL.html)

Ms. Griffin, who is an open Atheist, told those attending the awards ceremony that “a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus … Can you believe this shit? Hell has frozen over. Suck it, Jesus, this award is my god now.”

While these remarks may constitute free speech, they can also be considered extremely offensive to Christians. I understand that true free speech often offends, but check out what Ellen Johnson, the President of American Atheists, said of Griffin’s speech:

It’s permissible to make religious comments at the Emmy Awards and other public events as long as they do not criticize or threaten the self-appointed ‘Religion Police.’ Celebrities can go on national television to ‘thank’ Jesus, or Allah, or Scientology for their success, but an Atheist cannot make an honest and forthright statement that their success came from developing their talents and working hard…

This statement has a problem, and no, I’m not referring to Johnson’s incorrect pronoun agreement. The fact is that Griffin did not make an “honest and forthright statement that [her] success came from developing [her] talents and working hard.” She was doing fine up until “Suck it, Jesus.” It’s okay to say that Jesus didn’t have anything to do with one’s triumph if that’s what one believes… And it was pretty funny what she did say. However, the atheists really can’t be that surprised that the academy wants to censor Griffin. I mean, what if someone got up there and said, ” Yeah I got here because of my love for God. You atheists are nothing but fuckstains on the moldy mattress of humanity.” Then who might be calling for censorship? NOT because of religious remarks, but because maybe it could be considered extremely intolerant of atheists?

Thanking Jesus for an award does not automatically insult atheists, just as NOT thanking Jesus doesn’t automatically insult Christians. And yes, Griffin is a comedienne, and yes, “edgy” shit these days involves being extremely impolite and perhaps offensive. Still, I think the atheists could hitch their wagon to a better phrase. “Suck it, Jesus,” while it might have a ring to it, doesn’t really portray an educated, mature, or thoughtful point of view, nor does it present a tolerant stance. I would think that atheists, often being people of science and careful thought, might want to get behind a more, um, for lack of a better word, “classy” statement? Of course, I’m all for free speech.  Even if it makes people look like jackasses to advocate free speech sometimes.

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2 comments to The Problem With “Free Speech”

  • Brien

    The biggest problem really is that people have the wrong idea of free speech – they equate free speech as “speech without consequences”. And that’s not the case – you can say whatever you want, but there are always consequences for what you say (just as there are consequences for any other action). I am certainly within my rights to say that somebody is a two-toothed, pus-filled, smarmy, degenerate, slack-jawed drooling putrescent mass of such incredible denseness that black holes quiver as they pass, but I should not be outraged or even surprised if there is an effect caused by what I say. On another note, I really need to work on my insults – the Shakespearian insulter at Ren Fair is totally going to own me.

  • NtK

    Agreed about desirability of classy dissent vs crass iconoclasm.

    Forget where I saw it . . . two new mothers talking about TV shows for their toddlers:

    A: Do you let him watch Sesame Street?
    B: No, it’s too tolerant.

    It’s moments like that when I believe the neutron bomb is proof of a god …

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