So often we hear, “freedom of speech, man!” or “free country!” The first amendment is brought up whenever someone pushes back on a disagreement or gets slammed with a boycott because they said something pigheaded or just fucking wrong. “You’re infringing on my rights!” They speak as if the founders were concerned with a future epidemic of butthurt as they felt the great weight of framing a new country on their shoulders. The first amendment and “freedom of speech” is evoked at almost any slight — can’t weave together a coherent string of words and the newspaper declined your ‘letter to the editor’? FREEDOM OF SPEECH! Your employer or editor found problematic tweets or blog posts and declined to employ or publish you? FREEDOM OF SPEECH! The venue you were scheduled to speak or play got tired of your internet trolling activities and decided you weren’t worth the cash needed to secure and insure the event? FREEDOM OF SPEECH! Problem being, this doesn’t mean what you think it does.
There is no inherent freedom to say whatever the hell you want without facing social consequences in ANY society. You likely can’t go into a room of female octogenarians to deliver a lecture about that time you got hard watching Golden Girls without some pearl clutching and purse swinging.
I can’t walk into a room of my conservative neighbors and colleagues and read my prophetic pre-election Trump as the Emperor With No Clothes short story without getting berated and belittled as a person, writer and woman. It doesn’t even matter if the counter-argument is factually incorrect, “First sir, whore as a gender-based insult fails. Sexual promiscuity and sex as an industry is not inclusive to one gender, and the idea of women as delicate, chaste creatures is not only antiquated but ignoring reality. Second, I’m a gray-ace ice queen. Perhaps sir, it is you that should get fucked. I’d rather read a book or paint a bigfoot attacking Lord Byron or do about anything else. Thank you very much!” In a capitalist society, I could even expect people to take their grievances with me as a public sociopolitical entity to my employer. People have canceled their subscription to our publication because they disagreed with a member of our editorial board. This is not illegal or atypical, it’s capitalism. It is the economic system most of the free speech patriots tout as superior to all others. If you don’t like something, you take your money somewhere else.
The first amendment does not protect you from butthurt, from opportunity squandered by being an asshole, or from boycotts. The first amendment does not require owners of presses and other media outlets to print everything submitted to them because FREEDOM OF SPEECH! The press as part of a capitalist society is just another for-profit entity. If the owners of the press believe that your opinion or association will hurt them financially or doesn’t align with their mission as a company, capitalism gives them the right to not publish you.
The first amendment simply protects individuals and collectives from being threatened, stifled or censored by the government. Someone declining to publish your think piece, poem or other work is not an attack on free speech — it’s an invitation for you to reevaluate your relationship with the press and if you choose to do so, take your work and/or cash elsewhere. If you have a problem with publishers, you are within your power to use your own resources to publish your materials. You do not have the right to a press owned by someone else.
This is capitalism, this is the economic valuation system supported by conservative liberal politics. Yes conservatives, you are liberals. Liberalism is not what you think it is either, but that’s another article.
Modern-day free speech patriots are simply another group of loud assholes yelling louder than everyone else with nothing valid to say. You are not Zappa. The government is not trying to censor or regulate your industry. You are not speaking out for the right to say what you want to say — you are speaking out against the rights of others to talk back to you, to counter your argument, to use their business and intellectual property to exercise their own speech. You are claiming an inherent right to something that does not belong to you via the socioeconomic system YOU profess to support. You are a hypocrite and from where I’m sitting, you look like a goddamn fool.
If you think this through and determine you still have a problem, you need to realize your problem is not censorship or haters hating on great patriots for the sake of hate. Your problem is capitalism. Your problem is that you are incapable of introspection. Your problem is that THE FIRST AMENDMENT DOESN’T MEAN WHAT YOU THINK IT DOES.