"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
--Evelyn Beatrice Hall, in her biography on Voltaire
It's the Fourth of July and I love America. Probably one of the things I love the most is the ability to say whatever you want and have it be protected as a constitutional right.
But wait - just because you have the right doesn't mean the masses/your employer/your family/a bunch of other entities can't vote with their feet (or their wallets) to walk away from you if you say something they consider stupid. Just ask the Dixie Chicks. They were shocked in 2003 when they said they were embarrassed to have George Bush as their president. Saying that fell under freedom of speech. Problem was, they served a niche (country music) that was very pro-America at the time (post 9-11) and was pro-Bush. So they got pulled from radio stations as a result of what they said.
Freedom of speech they cried!!! Yep - you got that. You didn't go to jail or get fined. But your customers voted with their wallets. Interesting. Sounds like a pretty efficient, if imperfect, system to me.
Freedom of speech, but freedom to walk away from anyone you consider to be a crazy. Employment at will kind of falls under that if you think about it.
There's a lot of hand-wringing going on about America today. But don't kid yourself - it's always been a unruly mess. Paul Hebert did a nice post here and cites that back in the 1770's, the majority of people in the colonies didn’t actively support independence. Hebert cites one source that said it was evenly divided 1/3 loyalist, 1/3 supporting revolution, 1/3 indifferent; or possibly 25% loyalist; 15% supporting revolution, 60% indifferent. Those supporting revolution took a chance and got it done. Aren't you glad they did?
So when you're flipping the channels after the BBQ today and come across the extreme crazies on Fox or MSNBC, don't buy into the pack mentality that the sky is falling. It's just America figuring it out with an emphasis on freedom of speech.
As always, the middle decides whether to walk away from one side or the other. Same as a Dixie Chicks, with slightly bigger stakes. I like how America has historically re-calibrated.
Happy Birthday America.