In a world where controversial ‘Hot Topics’ are abuzz, Brian Gawlak finds the teachable moments in trending issues.
John Boehner is resigning. Would I be condescending if I said I am proud of him? I’m sure it was more than his moment with the Pope, and I admit to wondering what scandal will be uncovered or when he will announce his presidential run. Regardless, I think anyone who feels something in their soul and makes a change at that level deserves respect. While Boehner has not been my favorite politician, I can say “good job, sir.”
I can say that because I live in America where there is freedom of speech. But is freedom of speech really free?
The common thread in trending topics typically involves someone’s foot in their mouth after exercising their right to free speech. Whether it be Donald Trump on Marco Rubio/women/Fox News, or Joy Behar on every nurse everywhere. They prove you can say anything you want – but it comes at a price.
Donald Trump has been incredibly outspoken and his behavior has generated headlines around the world. He has attacked Rosie O’Donnell and Megyn Kelly. He has personally insulted his rivals in the bid for the presidential nomination; his latest, calling Marco Rubio a “clown.” Sensational? Certainly. Headline Grabbing? Absolutely. His freedom to say what he wants has him buzzing on every social media network. He has lost business deals, caused friction within the Republican party, and has now severed ties with Fox News – a move which I think will ultimately cost him the presidency. I watch with pure and utter fascination about what he will say next.
Just last week, Joy Behar and Michelle Collins of “The View” were discussing the Miss America pageant. They mocked Kelley Johnson’s (Miss Colorado) monologue in which she donned her scrubs and stethoscope and discussed what it was like to be a nurse for Alzheimer’s patients. Joy questioned why she had a “doctor’s stethoscope” and called Miss Johnson’s scrubs “a costume.” These remarks, and the subsequent “apologies” which followed caused an outrage from nurses across the country and led to Johnson and Johnson and other corporate sponsors to sever ties with “The View.” Even on a show where the hosts are not only free to speak, but paid to speak – words can come at a hefty price.
I’ve explained to my daughters how amazing it is that we live in The United States of America, and how important free speech is. My children are free to think, feel, believe and say anything they are moved to. ‘Freedom’ must not be confused with ‘free’, as there are consequences to everything we say. Every action has a reaction. If one chooses to say something hateful or ignorant, there will be a response to that. The cost may be great, as the case with Trump and “The View,” or may be as subtle as unfairly and unjustly hurting someone. Regardless, the price is too much to pay.
I stress the importance of tact and empathy with my children. My girls are still young, and they often speak without filters. I always ask them to consider how they would feel if someone else said the same negative thing they said about them. I watch them ponder and internalize the question. I am hopeful that in time, tact will be second nature for them and they will always treat others with the respect everyone deserves. I believe even at the tender age of seven, my girls are comprehending this. Now, if only someone could explain this to Trump.
Photo: flickr/Global X