You’re Entitled To Your Opinion
But When It Crosses The Line Into Abuse, That’s Another Matter
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Even if it’s wrong.
We’re all familiar with this concept. In fact, one of the most well-used misquotes ever wrongly attributed to Voltaire echoes this principle:
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
The concept of free speech is constantly defended as a cornerstone of democratic society. And generally, I agree, at least in principle.
There is, of course, the question of when free speech becomes hate speech. Does your right to freedom of speech automatically give you the right to be deliberately hurtful in what you say?
When does being provocative cross the line into being abusive?
These are all valid questions that continue to be hotly debated on an ongoing basis so frequently that I’m not going to bore you with re-hashing the arguments here.
Instead, what I want to talk about is the much more obvious, and yet frequently ignored, distinction between having an opinion and actively, violently assaulting someone.
It might seem blatantly obvious that the right to your own opinion does not automatically imbue you with the right to physically hurt others. Beliefs and actions are, obviously, two completely different things.
You might believe that immigration is destroying the economy of your country or disrupting the traditional values of the prevailing culture and should be stopped. I might disagree and call you a racist POS but I still acknowledge your right to your opinion.
What you do NOT have is a right to go out onto the streets at night and attack immigrant civilians, beat them, maybe even kill them, because of your beliefs. At that point you’ve clearly crossed way over the line and the issue is no longer one about your right to an opinion.
You might be a 40 year old man who is of the opinion that 10 year old girls are hot. Society might well shun you and call you a pervert, but as long as it remains no more than an opinion, then, I guess, you could argue that you have a right to it. What you do NOT…