I wonder why it is, that whenever anyone says something we don’t agree with, we are so quick to bring up free speech?
I’ve spent a lot of time with our very lovely First Amendment in Mock Trial, in high school and in college, and because my article was ultimately about the power of words, this is the rebuttal I am going to focus on.
The First Amendment does not allow institutions to restrict our free speech. As a society, however, we are encouraged to practice self-censorship. Throughout the course of the day, there are many things we would like to say to our families, our friends, our teachers and our bosses, but we never do, because we know that whatever it is, it is probably impolite and uncalled-for. The First Amendment is not an excuse to practice complete disregard for the feelings of others.
What I remember vividly from the game is that at one point, a group of students sitting nearby were shouting “faggot” quite loudly -– that was the profanity that I was referring to. No chants, no cheers, just students shouting a derogatory term at a public event. It was not everyone, it was not just one person and it was happening.
As for the signs, even if their intentions were not to criticize the LGBT community, printing off pictures of the other players that could be considered demeaning or compromising, or editing those pictures to the same effect is the lack of thinking about our actions that leads to words taking on a meaning different from their original intent.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell,” is such a culturally charged topic at the moment, and having it on a poster, no matter the intentions, can be construed as demeaning.
I also remember a student holding up one of these posters and making “Call me,” gestures to the other team – if he would like to explain how his actions were not meant to call the other team “gay,” then I invite him to speak up as well.
People do need to think critically about their actions and about their words. We need to make a conscious effort to show compassion and sensitivity. We are Lakers, we are a community and we should make a conscious effort to support all the members of our community in any way that we can, no matter what our personal differences are.
I understand that people do have very strong feelings about topics such as these, but as I attended the men’s hockey game against RIT, I do know what I saw and what I heard.
I guess this opens up theory of knowledge debates – many people are quite convinced that we saw very different things at the same time – but that topic has been discussed in textbooks and novels and psychology classrooms and we still don’t know how to judge what we “know.”