Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Prevalence of Unproductive Political Speech

Recently I saw a post on Instagram that portrayed President Obama bearing a Hitler mustache with the words "Pull Over Impeach" displayed above his head. Not the work of a radical fanatic, the photo was posted by a young female college student who I had no idea (prior to this posting) felt so strongly against Obama. Freedom of speech is one of the most important rights granted to us by the Constitution, but is there are a point where we take things too far? At what point do we cross the line from utilizing our freedom of expression for productive political discourse, to using this freedom to bash political opponents in ways that are inappropriate, unproductive, and personal?

We see it far too often, attacks on political players not on the basis of their political views or their actions while in office, but based on their personal life, appearance, race, and other factors that should play no role in their effectiveness as political operatives. The Obama presidency is a prime example of free speech taken past the point of political usefulness. The so called "birther" fad associated with Mr. Obama's first term which centered around the idea that Mr. Obama was not an American citizen, was unproductive. The idea that President George Bush or President Bill Clinton would ever have had to dispute where they were born is absurd, and thus accusations that Mr. Obama was not born in the United States were clearly an attack on Mr. Obama because of his race. The "birther" dialogue in the first Obama election which was discussed at length by conservative political correspondents, distracted from the real issues in the 2008 election cycle. So, not only are accusations like this offensive, but they are also unproductive.

This ties back into the "impeach Obama" post previously discussed, as this is another form of freedom of speech that is unnecessary and insensitive. If you truly believe that a president should be impeached, the way to garner support for this is not by equating him to a mass murderer who is responsible for the deaths of millions of individuals. Regardless of your qualms with President Obama, he is not a fascist dictator who brutally exterminated almost an entire ethnic group. As a rational individual and responsible citizen, these kinds of accusations are unwarranted and shouldn't be entertained by anyone who wants their political opinions to be taken seriously.

I encourage all citizens of this country to freely express their opinions in whatever (legal) way they see fit, but in order to be taken seriously in the political arena I believe it is necessary to respect your opponents and offer real criticisms of their actions in order to propose something such as impeachment. There is also a level of human decency that even with politics, citizens should adhere to. Comparing President Obama to Hitler is obscene, the same way the person who made that sign would have found it obscene if I had created the same sign of Ronald Reagan during his presidency.

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