Trump Probably Can Say It, But He Shouldn’t

Donald Trump makes a lot of – let’s call them, unique – comments and he’s been making some real doozies recently.

Many of those comments have irritated me.I wanted to use the word offended there but I feel like the word offended  has been misappropriated by Trump to imply that everyone who uses that word is somehow infantile and overly-sensitive. So instead, I’ll phrase my dislike of Trump’s rhetoric a different way, a way Trump may respond to more favorably- I’ll get angry.

Trump pisses me off.

Not surprisingly, a lot of people get pissed off by Trump. That’s kind of the point – he makes his little, noxious comments to get a rise out of people, to get attention.

And I’ve got to hand it to him – it works. I’m talking about him right now and I kind of hate myself for it.

But I’m writing about him now not because I think he’s important,but rather, because I think freedom of speech is.

I’ve heard several Trump supporters make assumptions about Trump opponents. For the most part, people who voice opposition to Trump are accused of being wimps who are obsessed with being politically correct. Worst of all though, I’ve heard many Trump detractors called enemies of the first amendment or free speech.

That’s where I get confused.

I am angered by a lot of what Trump says. I don’t think that makes me a wimp (other things do, sure, but not this.). On the contrary, I think you could argue that calling out sexist bullshit like this, simply means I have respect for myself and other women and demand that my potential president does too.That’s not being wimpy that’s sticking up for yourself, which is sort of the opposite of what wimps do.

I don’t think I’m obsessed with being politically correct. But even if I was, I wouldn’t care, because, for the most part, I think “politically correct” is just code for “trying to be polite and treat people of different opinions with respect.” So I do prefer to be politically correct, but I don’t think that means I’m emotionally fragile or lack maturity or mental toughness. It just means I expect people -particularly my elected officials – to be diplomatic and respectful, and failing that, at least try not to be a jerk. But this is a rant for another day, and I already did it another day when I wrote a whole blog about it.

And I most certainly don’t think my anti-Trump sentiments have any bearing on how I feel about the first amendment. I was a journalism major for God’s sake, and even if my most controversial story was just about the sale of concrete to some small town city commission, I still love the first amendment with all the fervor required from journalism majors everywhere. Trust me, that’s a lot of fervor because most reporters aren’t in it for the money, because they’re not going to make much. I know that from experience.

In short, I have mad, crazy love for the first amendment.

That’s why I get so angry when people who speak out against Trump’s comments are accused of being against the freedom of speech as a whole.

That may be true for some people, but that isn’t true for me.

And I’ll prove it to you – right now I’m using my own first amendment rights to voice my opinions on Trump.

Because that’s the thing with freedom of speech. It goes both ways. It means people like Trump can say purposely upsetting things to get a rise out of people. But then the people he purposely upset have a chance to talk back.

It’s a give and take.

You have freedom of speech but not freedom from the consequences of that speech. That means Trump can get by with saying almost anything he wants, but he has to live with the consequences of that speech – namely a bunch of people talking back to him in a pissed off manner.

Each side of the argument is using its freedom of speech to engage in this dialogue. So to say that one side is unequivocally against the freedom of speech just as it is exercising that right, doesn’t make sense.

 

For the most part, I don’t think people who are against Trump are upset because Trump has the right to say the things he says – they’re just upset about the specific things he says.

Let’s break it down another way. This is an example. It’s purely hypothetical. Say I disagree with one practice of a particular religion – for instance, I think it’s strange that Hypothetical Religion A tells practitioners to yodel and wear silly hats on Mondays. I can disagree with the practice of yodeling and wearing silly hats on Mondays but that doesn’t mean I’m against the free exercise of religion. It just means I dislike yodeling and silly hats.

It’s the same with the freedom of speech and Trump’s comments.  I hate the comments, not Trump’s right to make them.

 

Now, there has been some talk about whether or not some of Trump’s speech constitutes as hate speech, etc. and whether it should have any legal ramifications. I’m not getting into that here because I’m not a lawyer specializing in this sort of thing , so I’m just going to move on.

For me, the issue of whether Trump has the right to say the things he does isn’t even my biggest concern. My biggest concern is if he should.

It’s obvious Trump can say the things he has been saying- because he’s doing just that. I just don’t think he should  be saying these things.

I firmly believe that people should have the right to express their thoughts, feelings and opinions, even if these thoughts, feelings and opinions rub others the wrong way.

 

A president, a  presidential contender like Trump and nobodies like me have the freedom to say just about anything we want.

For that reason, we can say some really terrible things.

But we should all try to say something better.

Particularly Trump.

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