Dear Internet Interlocutor, criticising rape jokes does not mean censorship of rape jokes, so how is bringing up free speech relevant again?
My latest comment responding to somebody objecting to Melissa McEwan’s statement that “rape jokes are rape culture” in her Rape Culture 101 post which was crossposted to Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog.
but every one has the right of expression and freedom of speech. This includes expressing rude or inconvenient things.
Having the right to do something does not make doing that thing a moral act. Having the right to do something does not mean that others do not have a right to respond to that action negatively and make a judgement on the character of those who do that action. Freedom of speech does not and has never ever meant freedom from criticism.
People who make lazy/nasty rape jokes just for shock value are self-entitled insensitive jerks, it is right and proper to call them out for being self-entitled insensitive jerks, it does not infringe upon their right of expression or freedom of speech to call them self-entitled insensitive jerks. People being self-entitled insensitive jerks about rape IS rape culture.
Nobody is trying to take away their right to be self-entitled insensitive jerks, they’re just telling them that self-entitled insensitive jerks is what they are.
Oddly enough, many many many people do not like and do not want to be around self-entitled insensitive jerks. It’s a bit rich for the self-entitled insensitive jerks to then moan about being criticised and/or avoided because of their free choice to engage in free expression of speech that others find creepy and/or triggering.
Expanding a bit, social penalties such as criticism, disapproving looks and even outright ostracism do not infringe upon one’s rights to freedom of expression/speech. They are not legal penalties, they are other people exercising their own rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association. There is no right to freedom from other people deciding that one’s actions appear to be those of a self-entitled insensitive jerk and telling others that this is their opinion of one’s character.
Can these social penalties be used in a restrictive/biased/oppressive fashion? Yes they can, just like that freedom of speech that this guy is so keen to defend. All freedoms to act come with the freedom of other people to react negatively; with criticism, disapproval, scorn, disgust, anger and more. None of these reactions infringe upon anyone else’s rights or freedoms no matter how vociferously they are expressed, as long as they do not violate the integrity of anyone’s person or property. None of these reactions is free from negative responses from yet more others in turn.
This makes the “bbbbbbut – FREE SPEECH” argument irrelevant to engaging with criticism of an act of free expression. The criticism is about the moral/ethical aspects of what has been expressed. Stop whingeing about having the right to express what you did and own your responsibility for any negative responses to your expression. You expressed it, so you elicited the response, and you can’t demand only positive responses. It’s fine to end up saying that you don’t care about negative responses and you plan to keep on doing the same thing, but it’s not fine to argue that others have no right to express their negative responses to it.
Now, dear readers, as a little exercise for the little grey cells this Monday morning, what other perfectly legal acts can you think of that mark the performer as a self-entitled insensitive jerk yet nobody is planning to make actually illegal? (And let’s note right up front before a critic chimes in – many people see aborting a pregnancy as the act of a self-entitled insensitive jerk and they are planning to make it illegal, so that doesn’t count.)
I’ll start with:
- Abandoning a pet.
- Having an affair if one is not in an “open” partnership.
- Divorcing a loving spouse because they get older/fatter and you want a fancier trophy partner.