Thursday, February 20, 2014

Freedom of Speech?

Today I received a complaint by one of our oldest Toastmasters. Technically he always emails us and often complains about all sorts of things in general related to Toastmaster meetings such as:

-Meeting room arrangements
-Number of speakers who spoke today
-Officer team
-Meeting format
-Meeting Schedules

The list is endless and continuous. Today I got one from him complaining about the Topics of recent speeches claiming they have been too controversial -which is something he has complained of a fwe times in the past. 

My initial reaction was, Oh he must be talking about Martin's speech or Declan's speech. Martin recently spoke about how we as Americans should buy American-made things and stop buying from foreign countries so we can become self-sustaining again instead of just selling things manufactured in other countries. Declan spoke about the Good, Bad, and Ugly of China -which included government corruption and extreme use of execution of citizens. 

But Len wasn't referring to any of these. Instead he was referring to Louis' speech about observing ones life line. Louis, who was born and primarily raised in India, basically shared how what he had accomplished so far in his life -starting with marrying his wife in his 20s, having his kids in his 30s, and fulfilling himself in his job in his 40s. He said eh was looking forward to his 50s, 60,s and beyond. At one point he mentioned his hope for future generations to live in a place of equality -where everyone got a fair share in life and worked for equal pay. He suggested that Socialism might be a good thing for this country to consider. 

Len said in his email, "At our last meeting, I was biting my tongue so hard, I thought it had started to bleed.   Enthusiastically promoting socialism, is a topic that will offend many." Len basically argued that if we didn't talk to members who speak of controversial subjects members will leave our club and we'll be run dry. 

This got me wondering: What subjects ARE considered controversial in our oddball world of today? 

The Top List of "Controversial" Subjects Include:

-Abortion –have heard it when Ayu spoke of once considering it before being convinced to give birth to her daughter who is now 13 and she loves very much

-Animal Rights/ Animal Testing


-Recreational Drugs –I heard someone mention smoking pot in a speech once

-Borders/ Illegal Aliens

-Gay Marriage/ Homosexuality –Heard a gay man give a speech for International Contest once

-Gun Rights


-Death Penalty


-Current Wars/ Terrorism


-Recent Presidents

-Foreign Governments/ Cultural Practices

-Religion/Atheism/ God/ Spirituality/ Creationism -Have heard several people give speeches either mentioning God/spirituality or directly quoting the Bible. Louis actually did for one of his speeches since he's openly Christian 

-Global Warming/ Climate Change 

-Republicans and Democrats 

-Political/Celebrity Scandals 


-Supernatural/Paranormal/ Aliens/Ghosts… 

So basically my blog would be banned. 
At what point do you say you can't say something? It's kind of awkward because when you take all the "controversial" subjects what you get are a list of subjects people either:

1. Aren't Comfortable Talking About or 
2. Have Strong Argumentative Opinions About It Which Will Lead to Confrontations

And what does ignoring and avoiding these subjects lead to? Ignorance and indifference. Nobody bothers getting informed because they don't want to take a stance and then know nothing about the subject itself and/or they decide their position will make no difference so they don't take one. And what subjects are we teaching people to be indifferent towards: 

-Human Life Itself
-Soul, Afterlife, Meaning of Life
-The Environment, Animals, and Planet We Live On
-Human Suffering, Persecution, Annihilation as Caused by Other Humans
-Human Social Interactions and Treatment In Society
-Policies on Weapons Used to End Human Life 
-Policies on How Countries Should Be Governed 

Basically human and non-human existence as we have come to know it. But you CAN talk about walking your dog on a nice sunny day to the beach. Actually you can't because "Owning Pets" falls under the controversial subject of "Animal Rights" since some would argue "owning" an animal is wrong. Crap.

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