A couple of days ago on Facebook I came across a link to a poem Amanda Palmer wrote. It was titled “A Poem for Dzhokhar.” I clicked on the link, read the poem, and moved on.
For those of you who don’t know Amanda Palmer, she is a musician and lead singer of The Dresden Dolls. She is from Boston, and wrote a poem in reaction to the whirlwind of feelings she was experiencing after the Boston Marathon tragedy. Today, I noticed Rolling Stone and a few others have written some suggestively critical articles about this particular poem. Amanda didn’t ask journalists to promote her poem, but the implication is that she is exploiting the Boston Tragedy for her personal gain. So, now the commentary is ablaze with all sorts of hateful slurs and attacks on her person.
Things became so heated that Amanda wrote a response to the frenzy, which I felt was elegantly expressed. You can read it here.
Every time I see this nonsense unfold it just freaks me out how easily people get manipulated by media, and in turn by fear of public shaming. I picture a person standing in a crowd being stoned to death. How did this happen? Why is it so easy for us to spit out such hate? Why do we wish such horrible, disgusting things on people who don’t deserve this level of retribution?
All Amanda did was write a poem and post it on her blog. That’s what a blog is for, to share your view with people who are interested. Your “followers.” Duh.
There was a time when people took pride in their word as their bond. Has our culture and our language degraded so much that what we say no longer has any real worth? Are we so self-important that we feel the need to share every vile thought that enters our head? Ultimately, has this contagion taken over our courtrooms, our government buildings, places where intelligent leaders once sat? Are we done having civil discussion in which we can respectfully disagree?
I support the right to free speech, but I believe that Freedom of Speech is intended to defend the little guy. A person should be able to share their opinions openly regardless of their religion or background, so that governments cannot force you to agree with their plans, to worship certain gods, or else “off with your head.”
We cling to “free speech” as a mantra to talk, talk, talk without processing information effectively. Whether you like Amanda Palmer’s poem or not is pretty much irrelevant. It’s a matter of taste.
We seem to forget we also have the right to think. As in, we don’t just need to blurt things as they enter our brains.
We have the right to cool down. As in, hey maybe I’ll go buy groceries while thoughts and emotions simmer in my head.
If we are feeling passionate about a subject, we have the right to take our time and respond intelligently.
And believe it or not, we also have the right to shut the fuck up. As in, hey I’m human, I had a vile thought. Is it worth sharing? Nah, I’ll just exercise my right to shut the fuck up.
When I came across the Rolling Stone article about Amanda Palmer’s poem, I decided to write a comment, which read something like this:
“For those of you accusing Amanda Palmer of exploitation, I just want to point out that all she did was write a poem. Then she posted it ON HER OWN BLOG. It is Rolling Stone who thought this would make great controversy and light their comment forums on fire. So why not make a story out of it and let the rats rip each other to shreds?”
Shortly after, my comment was deleted. Apparently, what I said was too offensive.