Free Speech Isn’t a Free Pass

When I first saw the reports on Caiden Cowger’s radio program where he states Obama and Biden are making kids gay, I knew I wanted to respond in some way but wasn’t sure how. After all, Caiden Cowger, is barely an adolescent, so, at first, I pondered if he deserved any response at all, but I knew he did. He did because of what he said and they way he said it. It wasn’t until CNN Contributor Dana Loesch took to Twitter with her yankee-doodle yaking about free speech and ‘creepy’ people caring about what an adolescent said that I was able to ruminate about just what I wanted to say.

We need to respond to Caiden Cowger because he is an adolescent. He is a peer to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) adolescents. Because of this, he has a certain type of influence among his peers. Because of his radio program, he has a certain type of influence among the ‘millions’ as stated by Loesch who listen to him. And it’s the type of influence that can cause harm.

LGBT people are hurting and killing themselves due to the very type of rhetoric that Cowger expresses. It wasn’t some type of ‘I disagree with this policy because…’ or ‘I don’t like this particular position that is taken due to…’ It was just out-and-out foolishness. The kind of foolishness that comes not from any real data or research, but comes just from the place of ‘I don’t like this particular group of people because of…’

Secondly, his statements are falsehoods. Obama and Biden are not making kids gay and being gay is not a choice. We may not have the understanding behind the biological factors of being gay, but we can pretty much rest assured that being gay isn’t something environmental or caused by nurture. If it were, then all the Meg Ryan and Julia Roberts rom-coms, family sit-coms and jewelry commercials that permeate the airwaves at Valentine’s, Mother’s Day and Christmas which feature exclusively heterosexual couples that gays are subjected to would have had some kind of effect on making a gay turn straight.

With regard to free speech; yes, Mr. Cowger has free speech. We all have free speech. We have the ability to say whatever may be on our mind not matter how outlandish it is. However, free speech does not mean that you are exempt from having people rebut whatever you have spoken. Sometimes that rebuttal can be thoughtful and sometimes it is just as outlandish as what was originally spoken. That is part of the give-and-take of free speech in America. If you are going to put it out there, you have to expect that someone is going to give back should they not agree or not like what you said. This is, especially true if you put something out in a public manner, like a radio program that reaches ‘millions’ or even a blog.

Finally, what is acceptable free speech has evolved and is still evolving in our country. There have been many who have come before us where bashing or disparaging them is no longer considered acceptable. There are terms, phrases, symbols, colloquialisms, etc., that we no longer use because they are no longer acceptable forms of free speech. I, for one, am not sorry at all that it is becoming no longer acceptable to bash and disparage GLBT people. It is one of the geniuses of our forefathers when they wrote that oft forgotten phrase   “in Order to form a more prefect Union.” They understood that they were laying the cornerstone for something good, but by no means perfect. They understood that building liberty and democracy, like any other architectural structure, means renovation; expansion. They understood that there were some, even in their own homes, who did not have liberty and justice. But they created a means by which those without could become those with.  We are still forming that more perfect Union and allowing GLBT members a more welcome place within America is helping to advance the vision that was set out so long ago of liberty and justice for all.

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