On freedom of speech (or was that Identity)

I have been thinking a little bit lately about the freedom of identity (and/or speech) in our world today. I think there remains the need for people to have the capacity to say what they think. Recognizing that often, there is the ongoing struggle with making sure that people do not overstep their bounds in terms of their occupational responsibilities and personal beliefs.
Nicholas Fiedler has been dealing with this some here. Then yesterday, i heard this story about a man in Largo who wished to remain City manager (a post he had held for sometime) but was removed because he requested to continue in the role as a woman. He was being open, honest. Despite having many people testify on his/her behalf, the board voted 5-2 in favor of his removal. It was a six hour meeting. Jeez.
Then, in this week’s Economist, there is an article about a student (a few years back) who had carried a sign during a school parade which simply read “Bong Hits for Jesus”. The student was suspended orginally for five days (and inevitably for ten) when he quoted Thomas Jefferson back to his teacher. This case has made it to the Supreme Court of USA. However, the young man is currently teaching in English in China….yeah, so much for free speech of students or, so much for the authority of teachers over young people. This is the dilemma of the courts.
What do all these things have in common? Why do they matter? Well, for me, they represent the dilemma in which we find ourselves in a world that personally cherishes authenticity/vulnerability, but really doesn’t want to know what we really think/feel/desire. Increasingly, we have moved beyond freedom of speech towards freedom of identity. Now, it almost feels as though we’ve entered into a post-authentic soceity. Sure, some people want to know you, but the last thing your boss or coworkers really want to know is what you really think…what you really feel. Who you really are. Paradox if we live in society that ‘personally cherishes authenticity/vulnerability’, yes. We hear all the time, ‘be honest, be real, know thyself’. But do they mean it?
What does this mean? How will this shape us? Will those of us who have normal jobs and who have blogs be forced to decided who we want to be and where we want to be that person? Should employers be able to tell their employees what they can not do with their free time? What they may and/or may not post on blogs? Can they moderate content even if it goes against their code/conduct/belief/speech/identity?
The blogosphere has gifted us with the liability of authenticity. In all likelihood, if you blog, you stand the risk of losing your job, not get one later, or…being known for who you really are. Is there another way around it? Not sure…maybe, don’t blog about what/who you really are…or make sure you only blog about the things that everyone agrees on…or at least those that have power in your life..
What do you think?

2 thoughts on “On freedom of speech (or was that Identity)

  1. Hmmm. . some good thoughts here. What an interesting time to live. . where vulnerability is honored (kind of). That is amazing. But at the same time we are finding that the more we know about someone, sometimes the less we trust them. It is almost as if employment/religion-wise. . it is as you say. . a liability, we haven’t been able to see it as an asset yet. . but perhaps those on the forefront of this transparent blogosphere will open up the door for honesty to be an asset.

  2. Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s; like pearls thrown to swine are wise words to a fool.
    Some of my coworkers want to know what I’m thinking and feeling, and some don’t care; some of my friends are drawn to who I am at my core, and some just like the pizza I make. If I try to trade in vulnerability and authenticity with someone only interested in getting the quarter-end figures, I can’t be surprised when there is a negative reaction. I can try to fuel their appetite, but in the end, they will take only as much as they want. As much as they choose to take, though, I will be honest in whatever medium I present myself. If any of it is going to be worth anything at all, that’s the only choice we have.

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