Kierkegaard said “People demand freedom of speech as compensation for the freedom of thought, which they seldom use.”
Oh brother – that is SO true!
Living in a society with the freedom of speech requires a tolerance for this privilege. Most people develop their own filters to manage the many viewpoints we are subjected to everyday. Most subjects are usually manageable and can be discussed with civility and respect.
Viewpoints that are expressed without civility or respectful are easily discounted. For example, a man with a loudspeaker on a street exclaiming his interpretation of what God thinks of a situation can be overlooked as we have developed tools to dismiss people in certain settings.
Now image this same man is shaved and wearing a suit while having dinner with friends in a restaurant. He provides his interpretation of what God thinks. This different setting allows the people he is saying this to – a chance to discuss this opinion and provide their viewpoint and rational on this subject.
The difference in the two settings is the presence of accountability. When people are accountable to others when expressing their options they tend to remove any offensive and disrespectful aspects.
With the popularity of forums and networks like Twitter and Facebook anyone can have input on any subject without any knowledge or education of the subject. This can lead to masses of people being significantly misinformed. Since silence tends to be viewed as acceptance, it is paramount to voice our opinions and endure even if we come under attack for them.