Free speech means that you have the right to say whatever you want. And nobody can take that away.

It also means that I have the right to laugh at it. And nobody can take that away, either.

I am terribly tired of people brandishing the First Amendment and thinking that it means that their particular axe-to-grind must be taken absolutely seriously and accorded the same weight as anything else. And this is not the case. I cannot stop you from saying what you want, I would never dream of preventing you from saying what you want, I will defend to the death your right to say whatever you want. Everyone should be able to say what they want without fear of legal reprisal! It would be horrible to have the government squash you for your speech, all common-sense shouting-fire-in-crowded theatre analogies aside.

But there’s no force of god or man that can cause me to take you seriously if you’re an idiot. The First Amendment means that you don’t get shot for speaking your mind, it doesn’t mean that any of the rest of us have to believe you. Parade your beliefs all you want! You’re from the planet Zircon? Fabulous. You think that your pumpkin patch sings to you in the night? Wonderful. You think I’m a moron? Say it! More power to you! But just because you have the right to expression doesn’t mean anybody has to take your expression seriously. The First Amendment guarantees a lot of things–respect (beyond respecting your right to say any damnfool thing you want) ain’t one of them.

Whew. Had to get that off my chest. I feel better now. (Don’t bother trying to play the what-set-Ursula-off guessing game–I have that one on a hair-trigger, and it’s really not anybody’s fault. Much.)

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