I've been thinking about 'freedom of speech' this morning.
Inspired partly from a Facebook friend's post, and partly from what's going on at work right now.
Here's the work part: We're in the process of moving all the sections around in the store. It's going to take us about 3 weeks of overnight shifts to do so.
The stopping place for this week has left the 'Sexuality' section in a prominent place for customers to see when they're entering the store through the mall entrance. This is not the permanent place for it, but you can imagine it's drawn some complaints.
I've spent a lot of time explaining that it's temporary, and people ask why we're even allowed to carry 'those kinds of books' in the first place.
I'm very proud of the company I work for, and I'm happy to explain to them that we're a First Amendment company. We reserve the right to carry any book we wish, and display it wherever it will sell the best.
We sell many eyecatching titles...
(Just a little warning...if you google 'Penis Pokey Book', be prepared to see dudes using it as directed)
And those are just the ones most complained about. There are many, many more. Books with 'Asshole' and 'Penis' in the title seem to be the most ubiquitous. And books about zombies.
I'm gonna write a book called 'Attack of the Asshole Penis Zombies' and get rich, beeitch! (I call copyright!)
What I find interesting is that almost all of the complaints about which books we carry are directed towards sex books and books with swear words in the title.
Notice you can say 'asshole' on the front of a book here in the US, but not 'fuck'.
No one complains about all our military titles featuring killing. We prominently display 'The Anarchist's Cookbook'. And we sell the hell out of it.
We carry books about MMA fighters, with pictures of their bloody faces on the covers and titles like 'Blood in the Cage' and "Death Clutch'. Parents never complain about them.
Violence is ok for their kids to see, but sex isn't. God forbid they have to explain sex to their children.
I'd much rather my kid find out what a blowjob is, than learn how to make a bomb at home. That's just me.
However, if your penis can blow up an entire city block, that's a different story.
Also, you should give me your phone number.
Ok, now here's the Facebook conversation part (I'm not quoting here, just relaying the gist): A Canadian friend was talking about how they just watched police taking signs away from protesters in front of the White House. How 'freedom of speech' in the US is kind of a joke. If speech was so free, why try and stifle the protestor's right to it?
I agree with parts of that. I don't believe protestor's signs should be taken away, as long as they're making their demonstration peacefully.
I believe this, even when I think the protestors are complete assholes. Like the Westboro church people.
All people have to do is ignore their bullshit, and it doesn't have as much power. Better yet, laugh at them, like the guy in the above picture is doing.
I find laughing at people I don't agree with much better ammo than fighting them back. People don't like to have their views laughed at. Fight them? You just add fuel to their fire.
When Chuck and I accidentally came upon the Gay Pride Parade in Durham last September (which I begged him to stop and watch with me, I'd always wanted to attend one), there were protestors. But they were a small and sad bunch of people at one end of the parade route, no one even paid attention to them. They were drowned out by the fabulous, colourful celebration of human rights going on in the rest of the long street.
People are all for free speech if it's something they want to hear. I'm talking about both individuals and entire governments.
The part of my friend's post I didn't agree with, was just directing it at the US.
I'm a (VERY) proud Canadian. I love my country of birth, loved every second of the 23 years I lived in it. I happened to fall in love with an American (which I never thought I'd do) and move to the United States unexpectedly.
There are some things I don't like about the U.S., but the country's not completely evil.
To use a geeky 'Lord of the Rings' analogy, which you may or may not get:
I may be wearing the ring, but I haven't turned into Gollum either.
Canada's track record isn't perfect with freedom of speech and expression. They just lifted the ban they had put on playing Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing", for Pete's sake. Banning art (which music is) doesn't sound like freedom of expression to me. But they lifted it, so kudos to Canadian radio for correcting that mistake.
There's also a 'Canadian Content' law. In a nutshell, it governs the percentage of music played on the radio by Canadian artists. It was designed to keep our culture alive in the face of American saturation of media. I think the law is kind of ridiculous. I can listen to American musicians all day long, and I feel like I haven't lost one bit of my Canadian identity.
Americans aren't going to suddenly say, "I have this sudden craving for poutine..." when a Rush song pops on the radio.
(Myself, I feel a strong urge to bitchslap Geddy Lee's voice when a Rush song pops on the radio...does that make me anti-Canadian?)
I'm really glad I had the opportunity to live in both Canada and the U.S. I've gotten to see both sides of the story, and pros and cons of living in both countries. There are fools in both governments (in all governments). There's racism and oppression alive in both countries.
Americans will hear my accent and ask where I'm from. I tell them I'm from Canada, and they always have some sort of question to ask about it. Usually it's about health care. Most of them actually will listen to my point of view, and give me the opportunity to debunk the myths spread by internet propaganda.
And some of them forget about the political shit, and make fun of my accent. "Oot and aboot, eh???" and they laugh their asses off.
But you know what? I just laugh right back and point out the hilarity of Americans saying 'tunafish' instead of just 'tuna' because we both know there's no such thing as 'tunahorse', and we laugh together about our differences.
I've lived here for 5 and a half years, and can say whatever the fuck I want. Just like in Canada. I fly my Canadian flag right next to Chuckles' American one, and haven't been shot at yet.
Not saying the government wouldn't take away my protest sign if I was waving one in front of the White House, but luckily I prefer to make my protests locally. Small, quiet protests can eventally turn into large change.
As long as everyone makes fun of everyone equally, 'debate' instead of 'fight', and ALL just lighten the fuck up, the world would be a more peaceful place.
Do you know what I miss most about Canada? I do miss being able to turn on the CBC and hear the word 'fuck' and see titties if I wanted to. Sometimes at the same time.
P.S. If you haven't heard Samuel L. Jackson reading 'Go The Fuck to Sleep', do it now. Especially if you're a parent. It's hilarious.
P.P.S. I didn't mean this as a slam to my FB friend, I respect the opinions that were stated, even if I don't agree with all of them. I love a debate! In fact, this may spur a mass-debate.
Nothing I love more than mass-debating.