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Free Speech vs Personal Rights

Monday, April 29, 2024 6:36 PM | André Salvage (Administrator)

I don't want to put my head on the chopping block by discussing this, but it's a topic that has come up in several conversations I've had with individuals in both small groups and government settings. The debate centers around the right to speak freely and say whatever one needs to say versus an individual's personal right to be comfortable and not be triggered.
I know many of us have strong opinions on this matter, and what I'm hoping for is a discussion to see if we can discover some type of balance. This is challenging because, like all social, political, and spiritual ideals, we tend to place them on a pendulum, swinging from extremes and creating divisions of 'us versus them,' 'right versus wrong,' and demanding that someone take a side.
I'm not naive enough to think that we can solve this particular problem, but what I'm hoping for is a discussion on how the extremes might find ways to meet in the middle. Perhaps this is something that can be offered during times when the debate is particularly heated.
What I'm saying is that I definitely have opinions that I express in those moments, but I'm looking to see and hear from your experiences on ways to find common ground so that both so-called extremes can be in the same room and listen to one another.
If we have time, I would also like to explore if there's a parallel to the idea of stopping someone from harming you by moving or attacking first. In San Soo, we understand that it is not easy to hurt another human being. To do so, you must dehumanize them; that's why people curse at you, call you out of your name, and even use animal names—because, in their minds, they are not making you human. These words have the power to provoke an attack. As fighters, we know not to wait for someone's best move and trust our intuition, watching their body and words to either attack first or move away.
Given this, my question is: When does someone forfeit their right to continue (free speech) and make me feel not human before I have the right to feel safe and protect myself? Is there any parallel to someone lecturing and using offensive, possibly dangerous, dehumanizing words and someone's personal right to interrupt them or stop their flow, as we do in San Soo?
Please, do me a favor and try not to place me on either side of the extremes based on what I've said, but join me, and let's see if we can find a balanced, common ground.

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