This is a different post from the one I was originally going to post due to recent events in Canada. The fact that stating an opinion that could be construed as controversial can lead to a person being fired is terrifying but is something that just happened here in Canada. Recently, a popular but often controversial hockey commentator named Don Cherry had a speech about how people need to support our Veterans by buying poppies. Clearly this is a valid statement as walking down the street before Remembrance Day you could see lots of people without poppies. The problem was that he focused his statements at a particular group of people, immigrants. This made his statements “racist.” This resulted in people who were offended by his statements insisting that he be fired, and he was.
The thing is, some of our social improvements, such as religious freedom, women’s rights, and the LGBTQ movement were all politically incorrect. Atheism is still somewhat politically incorrect, which is strange since it is impossible to have religious freedom without the option to not believe. These improvement could never have come about without freedom of speech. If we lose freedom of speech, then the people who don’t think those things are improvements could take those freedoms away.
I do not believe that having a politically incorrect opinion should be grounds for firing someone. Even if that opinion is offensive to some other people. Quite frankly, any opinion can be considered to be offensive by someone who holds the opposite opinion. “But he’s a racist!” Maybe, but so are a lot of other people many of whom like to call other people racists. In fact, there are leader’s of countries that are clearly racist, and I am not just talking about Trump. Apparently it is okay to be a racist and run a country but racists should not be allowed to comment on Hockey game strategy.
Freedom of speech means that everyone should be free to express their opinions without fear of repercussions. This means that some people are going to say things that you disagree with. But guess what? You also have freedom of speech which means that you can use your speech to explain why that person is wrong. Calling someone a “racist” does not explain why they are wrong! In fact, even though Don Cherry was fired over his opinion, nobody bothered to look and see if there was any validity to his statements, which to me is the bigger problem. Truth should be what we strive for, even if it offends people. But in today’s politically correct climate, truth is often the victim. Are immigrants less likely to support our veterans’? If so is it simply due to them being unfamiliar with our customs in which case explaining the significance of wearing a poppy to them would likely solve the problem.
If when someone says something that you strongly disagree with then dismissing them as a “racist”, “sexist”, or whatever-ist does not help the situation. If they have a valid point then that point is still valid no matter what type of human that person is. We should be focused on what is being said and whether it is valid, not on who is saying it. It is impossible to get to the root of a problem if we are forbidden from talking about the problem. In the long term, stifling opinions – even incorrect ones – is far more harmful to society than offending people.
Now with that off my chest, next month - assuming something doesn't happen to keep me on the sandbox - I will post the first half of the next chapter of my HTML5 Game Development using Animate eBook.