Tuesday, June 26, 2007

the double standard of freedom of speech

Not too long ago, my husband ceased working for a Peetown client on a complete gut and renovation of their house. Let me clarify, one of their several houses. This was the never ending project - I kid you not - it started with a deck in 2003 and moved onward and upward from there. Years of working on a house that was destined for Architectural Digest. Years of making the smallest, and sometimes ridiculous, changes at a moment's notice on because that was what the client wanted and because my husband is really, really good at what he does and takes a lot of pride in his work. Years of making a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Years too of tolerating sexual harassment. Yes, that's what I said. The girl who rarely gets offended regardless of the jokes, innuendos and crass comments. He was called names that a woman would not have tolerated under any circumstances and for which she would have sued the pants off of an employer for. But in this case, these names were to be accepted you see because the client was gay. And being gay in today's society allows you to do and say pretty much anything you want without repercussions.

The "nicknames" my husband was dubbed with were something that we both ignored, excusing it as "well, that's just George's way" and leaving it at that. However, this past weekend my husband and I were in Peetown working on finishing a small carpentry job for Mark, another long time client. Well, Hot Carpenter Man was working and I was lending moral support and playing with the client's puppy. Both very important tasks.

Side note: The actual reason why my husband doesn't work for George is that he was fired. Without notice. You see the scapegoat for the inability of the sow's ear to become that silk purse became my husband. "Why this wasn't finished," "why that didn't get done on time," blah blah blah. Never mentioned was that the client called one night last summer to say "stop working, there is no more money indefinitely." Never mentioned was that the sub contractors who the client personally selected were sub standard in their work. Never mentioned was that the bathroom tiles had to be sorted by color gradation so they could be installed from lightest to darkest at a 45 degree angle outwards from the shitter.

Side note #2: Oh, one of the bonuses that came out of this? My husband paid each and every one of the sub contractors himself personally out of his own account to make sure that they wouldn't get screwed by the "ran out of money" problem despite almost going broke himself. He now has subs that will gladly work for him anytime, anywhere in a building community where you can't get an electrician or drywaller for at least 2 months out. He earned respect.

Back to Peetown. My husband mentioned to Mark that he was no longer working for George and told him briefly the circumstances why. All Mark could say is "I'm sure that he'll be backstabbing you around town like the queen he is and that you'll end up being the bad guy in this because you're straight and you can't tell a fag to go to hell. I can call him a fag but you can't."

There's that double standard of freedom of speech rearing its ugly head again. Only gay people can call each other fags or fairys or whatever with impunity. It's still an insulting thing to say. Only black/afro-american people can call other black/afro-american people "nigger" and get away with it. It's still a horrible and disrespectful word no matter what the color of the uttering mouth is. Why is it acceptable that anyone can say these things to other people at all? Never mind that our books, movies, video games etc. all make it commonplace.

Why should someone actually be responsible for what comes out of their mouth?

Why is it that Americans feel that just because it's their constitutional right to have freedom of speech that they can say absolutely whatever they want and then hide behind that First Amendment fence and thumb their noses? When insulting and degrading terms become commonplace and used without boundaries, shouldn't we look at our "freedom of speech" a little more carefully? What about respect? Calling a gay person a fag just because you are gay yourself doesn't make it right.

Just because you can say something doesn't mean you should.

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