The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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Freedom of Speech

I like to talk about politics, and I like to talk about woodworking. Very rarely do the two subjects come up in the same conversation, and at that, this post is not really about woodworking, but politics. When I first entered the world of virtual woodworking, and internet woodworking forums, I was pretty surprised to see some heated discussions over simple subjects such as: Which chisels do you like? Do you like Sawstop table saws? Do you think that people who use power tools are ‘real’ woodworkers? When I say heated, I mean to say that it got nasty. There was a lot of name calling, insults, and so on. Though I had seen discussions like this on the internet before, they were usually concerned with politics, or current events, or even sports. I never thought that the world of woodworking would be so polarized, and I spent the last few years trying to figure out why. Now, I don’t care so much anymore, but, there is one thing I do care about that transcends woodworking forums and blogs, and that is the right to express your opinion without being persecuted for it.

Some people who read this blog may watch a popular television show called ‘Duck Dynasty’, or at least be aware of it. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen the show and know very little about it. Reality shows aren’t my thing for the most part, and during the short hours that I am actually home during the week more than likely the Disney Channel is what we’re watching on the television. The long story short is, a few weeks ago one of the members of the show gave an interview, and during that interview he said that he felt a certain group of people were sinners according to his religious beliefs. Of course, there were those who agreed with him and those who didn’t. The group that didn’t agree went to the television network that his show is on, complained and I am guessing mentioned a boycott, and the network removed him from the show. Before I go on, I want to make it clear that I don’t know exactly what he said because I didn’t read the interview. At that, I really don’t care what he said, because I felt that removing him from the show was a huge mistake, and completely went against the ideals of freedom of speech, expression, and opinion. In a nutshell, and using a broad generalization, many of those who agreed with the decision would probably refer to themselves as “Liberals”, and many who supported what he had said would probably refer to themselves as “Conservatives”. Though I would be absolutely sure that he had supporters and detractors on either side of the fence. I don’t like to label myself with “isms” or political party lines, because I believe there is too much hypocrisy on both sides and that real fairness and impartial decisions are almost impossible anymore.

A friend of mine, who in his own words would describe himself as “Very Liberal”, explained to me that this Duck Dynasty guy was a bigot and doesn’t belong on television. Because I don’t know the guy from Adam, I can’t call him a bigot, but I reasoned that firing him because he expressed an opinion in a reasonable manner during his own free time seemed that it could be a violation of his Constitutional right to free speech and thought. He went on to say that the company that fired him had every right to do what they did and technically that is true. In fact, just about every company in America can fire one of its employees at any time for any reason. The reason really doesn’t matter, it could be for wishing a fellow employee “Happy Christmas” or “Happy Birthday”. It could be for having a phone conversation in the privacy of your own home, where you happened to say that you didn’t care for the current President. Because, if your opinions, no matter where you express them, are deemed offensive or detrimental to business your company has every right to terminate your employment. I don’t know how some people feel, but I don’t care for it all that much.

I made two points to my friend. The first point was that he wasn’t being very “liberal”. To my mind, being liberal would be for allowing for all ideology, opinions, and religious beliefs. My friend was very quick to say that this guy should not only be banned from the television show, but from TV altogether. He felt that his beliefs had no place in the workplace. I pointed out to him that there were a lot of people who, right or wrong, agree with what he said. He made disparaging remarks about them and felt that the country was better off without them. I then proceeded to tell him that because he didn’t agree with this guy’s opinion, because he felt that he was wrong, because he didn’t care for the guy all that much, he felt that not only should the guy not be allowed to work, basically anywhere, but that anybody who supported him doesn’t belong here, either. Well, I don’t know about anybody else, but what my “Very Liberal” friend said to me sounded very much like bigotry. What my “Very Liberal” friend said to me sounded a whole lot like Fascism. If you don’t believe me, check out “The Rise of Fascism” and you will see that I am a lot closer to the mark than you think. I pointed all of this out to him and he didn’t really agree.

The second point I made to my friend was this. As far as I am aware, every corporation/company in the United States of America operates under the protection of the Constitution and the laws of this country. These companies are given police, fire, and military protection. They are given tax concessions, their vehicles use public roads paid for by the taxpayers. They use the infrastructure that the tax payer has provided. They can advertise, set pricing as they see fit, open and close their businesses when they see fit, and are only required to pay their employees the minimum wage required by law. Every company in this country is protected by the rights guaranteed in the Constitution, but it seems that when a private citizen of the United States takes employment at one of these companies, he is basically forced to forfeit some of those Constitutional rights if he wants to work there. Those forfeited rights include the right to practice your own religion, express your own opinions, think your own thoughts, and even disagree with some of the things the company you work for does without fear of persecution. Scarily, it seems that according to law, you cannot do those things anymore, even away from work, even in the privacy of your own home, without fear of losing your job. Like my friend pointed out; every company in America can terminate your employment at any time for any reason they see fit, so it’s not as if you can just go to another job and things will be better; it is the same across the board.

I pointed out all of these things to my “Very Liberal” friend. I pointed out that he and some of his cronies spend an awful lot of their free time on the internet bashing corporations and their pay disparity, lack of worker rights, unfair tax breaks and so on. But, when one of those corporations did something he agreed with he was goose-stepping right behind them, and defending their “right” to do as they pleased. I pointed out that his “Very Liberal” line of thinking didn’t really come off as being very liberal. I pointed out that a person, or a group, who wants to ban, blacklist, or even deport a person or group whom they don’t agree with aren’t very liberal or fair, they are more like, dare I say, Fascists.

Anyway, enough with the politics. I just had to get that off my chest. My next post will be about my next project, hopefully starting very soon.

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