Free Speech vs I'm Offended!

There has been a movement recently taking place in American society that has irony written all over it.  It's the Freedom of Speech vs the Freedom of Offense.  Let me explain.  

For many years the country has touted the virtues of freedom of speech. It's what was included in the constitution and what is continually fought for in the political arena.  It is important, but the meaning of free speech has changed somewhat from our humble beginnings as a country to the present day.  It used to mean that the people had the freedom to speak out against the government and to voice their own opinions.  It has morphed into a very different ideology altogether.  

It now has come to mean that anyone has the right to say anything to anyone and in any manner they wish.  People no longer value or embrace effective communication.  They don't look for ways to express themselves and their ideas in the most effective and respectful ways.  They don't usually care to take care in how they present their ideas or acknowledge that they might need to tailor their words and choose them wisely in order to reach different people of varying cultures and points of view.  

It has become en vogue to speak one's mind and, even amongst Christians, place more value on being offensive over respectful in order to show power in getting one's point across.  In Christianity, it has been almost a badge of honor to say you have offended someone with the Gospel.  While Jesus and the Gospel have been said to be offensive to some, we are not called to be offensive in sharing Him with the world.  We are called to be loving.  Even the Apostle Paul shared how he became as a Jew when speaking with the Jews and as the Gentiles when speaking with the Gentiles.  This illustrates how we are to tailor our message to those we are speaking to in order that we might reach different people.  

But in today's society, we are taught almost to shout down our idiological enemies in order to overpower them in a war of words.  

At the same time, the nation has been caught up in a battle of offense.  People almost look for things by which they may be offended. College students are told on campus that they cannot say this or do that because it might offend someone...almost to the ridiculous.  

Perhaps, if we took the time to learn to be effective communicators and took care and love in doing so while standing up for what we believe, maybe--just maybe--we wouldn't see such offense taken.  What say you?  



  • JoJo Tabares

    Thank you, Sandra!

  • Sandra J

    I appreciate your thoughts, and so eloquently spoken. I long for a return to a time when social manners were a sign of good character – it seems now the opposite is true. I think of our Lord – whose lovingkindness draws us to Him – not fear or offensive tactics. I love the Bible verses on gracious words on your home page. Glad I visited.

  • JoJo Tabares

    Thank you, Rebecca. I agree. I’ve been teaching these skills for 13yrs, but lately have seen a sharp decline in people’s interest in acquiring them and an increase in the shouting down of other people.

  • Rebecca

    Great post! I agree, communicating effectively is a great skill that needs to be sharpened! :)

  • JoJo Tabares

    Thanks, Deb. Exactly!

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