Should Creatives & Entrepreneurs Care About Free Speech?
Over the past year free speech has become a hot topic in our generation. Particularly if you live in the U.S. Some say the liberty to speak as you wish is obvious and an inalienable right, while other think we take it a bit too far. Stating that people may use it as an excuse to be abrasive or mean. Leaving out the Charlie Hebdo attacks; what does the right to say what you wish mean in the context of creativity? What does it mean in the context of business?
Freedom isn’t Always Free
Let me start by saying that speech isn’t as free as you’d think here in ‘Merica. Setting aside the social justice movement or the Trumpster army; there are clear cut laws that limit speech. Private companies are allowed to limit speech as they wish in their places of business: a good example of this is a movie theater. Where no one is allowed to speak on their phones during a movie without being politely asked to leave.
I think we all agree this is for the betterment of the movie experience. Ironically, AMC is in discussion about trying an all phones go theater showing. Where they would have specific showing times for people who liked talking on their phones and texting during a movie. (What do you think about that?)
Freedom isn’t always Fun
The problem is primarily that freedom of speech is not alway fun. This is a problem, sure. But it is not a disaster area. Speech is not action, therefore; to a creative we must be able to freely speak about anything under the sun and explore careless and reckless ideas in order to reach productive ones. Dialogue is a creative’s greatest tool. Us artsy types might call it brainstorming, or workshopping but it’s all the same. If we cannot say stupid things, we cannot reach genius conclusions.
Freedom isn’t ever Silent
This same rule applies to entrepreneurs. If we cannot make claims that others disagree with, statements that insult some and inspire others then our businesses may never flourish. Our primary job as entrepreneurs is to lead people. In order to do that we may have to tell them some facts that they may dislike. This role in itself opposes suppressed speech. We cannot lead our teams without free speech. If someone does not appreciate the way we lead, the answer is not to stop them from leading but to find a different leader. As Ben Shapiro says “The answer to bad speech is more speech not less speech.”
Free Speech America
This is the beauty of living in a free country. That we can all have our own opinions. No one has to agree, and no one has to force me to agree with you. Yet we can all still be civil. The greatest of all diversity is diversity of thought. Where we can collate at a table and bring different ideas. Expressing them equally, individually and freely; regardless of skin color, economic status or religion. Solely based on merit and the legitimacy of the argument.