Free Speech Doesn’t Mean Careless Talk
It seems we have mistaken our constitutional right to freely express our thoughts as a freedom to disregard, humiliate and disrespect others. (It’s just a guess, but I don’t think that is what the founding fathers had in mind).
Disrespect is not dialogue!
It is intriguing, but even more disturbing, that meaningful discussion and dialogue have been lost in an environment where name-calling has become the most honored debate strategy. We are being subjected to that every day; from both leading presidential candidates and from every corner of the twitter-sphere.
Don’t argue your point by a rationale presentation of facts when you can simple disqualify the validity of the other person’s existence by simply calling them out as a libertard, a right-winger, a homophobe, a racist or bigot, a liar, a pharisee, a heretic, or simply an idiot. Those with whom we disagree are no longer people with different views. They are enemies to be exposed, devalued, and defamed.
And sadly, it is not just secularist unbelievers that have resorted to attack speech. Careless talk has become, far too often, the common vernacular of those who call themselves Christian.
Is this the kind of interaction that Jesus was promoting when he instructed his students: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”?
Have we forgotten the condition placed upon “speaking the truth” in Ephesians 4:15?
We are quick to render criticism on our young people for the disrespect which has become their norm (and it is bad). However, I think we do these young people an injustice when we refuse to turn the spotlight on a society that believes it is not only normal, but acceptable, to talk down to one another, and put others in their place, when verbally cruelty is applauded as a positive character trait. Then we should further turn the light upon ourselves, and ask, “When have I chosen, rather than counter with legitimate rebuttals, to assassinate someone’s reputation through name-calling?”
Could it be that our greatest cultural crisis is none of the issues that our politicians are peddling? Could it be that what we are seeing in our presidential candidates is our biggest failure being put on display before our blinded eyes? Maybe our most critical cultural crisis is a gross loss of civility in which we can’t show respect toward one another as fellow beings created in the image of God, tarnished as it may be.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear … Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Ephesians 4:29, 31-32 ESV
— Pastor Steve