Thursday, April 12, 2012

Profanity in the Park- Liberty Lines 4-12-2012

(Published in the State Line Tribune 4-12-2012)

Freedom, as I understand it, is doing whatever you want to do. Liberty, on the other hand, is the freedom to do those things you have a right to do. However, just because you have a right to do something it doesn't mean that it's the best thing to do in every situation. Liberty always comes with responsibility

For example, those local residents who play basketball at the Farwell park and the elementary school playground have the right to use the childish language- mostly four-letter words- that is usually referred to as "profanity", but when small kids are around it is a poor decision.

I am not shocked by your words, nor am I impressed that you know them. I knew most of them when I was in fourth grade, and I was probably a slow learner. However I resent that you have so little respect for my young daughter that you can't play a simple game without screaming those words, and describing in graphic terms what you suggest your opponents do, at the top of your lungs, with each and every play. You foul the air just like you litter the ground with all the empty "sports drink" bottles that you leave behind. You are responsible for your deeds whether you accept it or not.

I understand why some misguided people try to have laws passed to use the brute force of government to punish those who loudly and indiscriminately fail to grow up in the language they use and in their actions. Yet I will continue to despise and oppose any such attempts to regulate your speech. As I say, you have a right to say whatever you want, but when you misuse that right, and fail to accept responsibility, others get the bright idea to control you by "law", and some of them aren't nearly as concerned about your rights as I am. You give the nannies among us an excuse to try to violate everyone's liberty with your boorish behavior. Please grow up.

I realize this plea will not reach those I am addressing. The impression I get from your juvenile choice of language is that you probably don't spend much time reading anything as deep as a newspaper- and it makes me doubt anyone in your life cares enough to mention this to you. Prove me wrong.


  1. A wonderful law professor (Judge Costigan) constantly told us:

    "Your rights end where my nose begins."

    Those people can scream, curse and blaspheme to their hearts content, but when it affects your enjoyment of peace and quiet, it ends.

    Absolutely enjoy your articles!

  2. Another excellent, cogent commentary, Kent.
    You *are* a clear thinker.

  3. Anon- Actually, I don't have a right to expect anyone else to not offend me or affect my enjoyment of peace and quiet, but I will speak out when they do.

    Pvt.Joker- Thanks.

    This column has gotten me a lot of positive comments as I run into people around town. More, probably, than anything else I have written. Which makes me wish the locals were as anxious to defend liberty as they are to condemn those who abuse it.

  4. So you would say that if I set up a boom box operation in front of your house and screamed obscenities till the wee hours of the morning, that would just be peachy fine with you?

    How about blasting away and extolling the benefits of child rape while you and your family were eating dinner?

    Sorry Kent... but this isn't a matter of free speech. It's a matter of infringing upon my right to be left the hell alone - without some idiot swearing like a drunken stevedore - expecting all to bask in his crudity.

  5. Didn't say it would be peachy fine- just saying that unless they are trespassing or causing actual harm I am not within my rights to shoot them for doing it. And using the force of government is exactly the same as shooting them since all laws are ultimately enforced with death.

    I can ask them to stop. I can print a column in the paper expressing my displeasure. I can find a way to annoy them until they leave (as long as I don't initiate force or fraud/theft). I can also choose to ignore them. I can use the experience to tell my daughter why I would prefer she not use the language they are using, and tell her it isn't acceptable in our house. She's going to hear that kind of thing all her life, regardless of my preferences or how I act in this circumstance. Shouldn't I show her by example the civilized ways to deal with it? Why should I show her that I think it is OK to initiate force when I know it isn't?

    Funny thing is that I've never faced a scenario quite like that you are using as an example. I think that may be another of those "trolley problems" that are useful for exploring the fringes, but that don't really crop up in such a way, in real life, that there is no alternative other than initiating force. If I lived in a place where my alternatives came down to being miserable or initiating force, I would move.

    You do what you feel is right and accept the consequences.