Freedom of Speech Has Consequences

 [LEGAL USE OF THIS PHOTO LICENSED AND SECURED VIA DREAMSTIME - November 2014 - Graphic by Dawn Hudson]

[LEGAL USE OF THIS PHOTO LICENSED AND SECURED VIA DREAMSTIME - November 2014 - Graphic by Dawn Hudson]

In the United States, the first of our coveted constitutional freedoms under the Bill of Rights is Freedom of Speech. While there are some limitations to that freedom, primarily centered on not inciting riots or causing immediate harm to the citizenry, it’s generally accepted that you can write or say pretty much anything you would like and make those thoughts and feelings publicly known while being protected from actions against you by the government or fellow citizens. That being said, it was never written that what you decide to say or write might not have social-related consequences.
For example, my Sunset Vampire series focuses on two controversial protagonists, a dominant and assertive female vampire named Katrina and her beta-male human love interest named Caleb. I’ve received a number of scathing reviews in blogs and on retailer sites for my writing.  While there are a percentage of readers who find a dominant and assertive woman threatening and slightly off-putting, there are numerous readers who are insulted – and vehemently resent – reading about something far-more forbidden: a beta male who permits a female to protect him, and perhaps even worse, serve a dominant role in their relationship. *collective gasps ring out across the globe*
It’s okay. Go ahead and gasp, curse my name, and wag your fingers at me if it makes you feel better. Because of its outside-the-norm and highly controversial central protagonists, the novels in my Sunset Vampire series will likely never make it onto any best-seller lists or make me tomorrow’s next member of the Millionaire’s Club. (There is one, isn’t there? *shrugging* I’ve heard stories…) However, I’m not going to cease writing about Katrina and Caleb until their Sunset Vampire story is complete.
The truth is that, while it’s my constitutional right to write about my characters, it’s the constitutional right of others to openly disagree with me. While no author likes to read negative reviews, I’m perfectly at peace with receiving negative feedback, if only because I respectfully acknowledge views that oppose my own.
With that in mind, I’ve watched and listened as many stories surfaced about citizens and public figures openly targeting various minority groups in society. One only has to watch the news, read tweets, or read a report on a website to hear about the latest fraternity members who are making racial slurs, or the Southern conservative legislator who proposes laws that protect citizens who openly discriminate against alternative lifestyle people in the marketplace, or hear about people who speak out against those with non-Christian based beliefs. Essentially, there are haters out there in the world who hate people who are different from themselves. Worse yet, when those individuals are chastised by the general public for their initiatives or remarks, they tout their First Amendment protections and claim that others have no right to publicly shame them for their beliefs.
However, there is something that’s very important to remember: Just because someone has the constitutional protection to say or write something controversial, it doesn’t mean that others don’t have the right to publicly chastise then for it. If someone says something controversial, they should be fully prepared to OWN IT. Essentially, they should not be surprised when others in the general public give them a “bad review” for their constitutionally protected views.
For years, people were publicly shamed and shunned for their anti-establishment views, whether it was mixed race coupling, same sex relationships, or non-Christian religious beliefs and practices. Numerous people lost their jobs, friendships, and sometimes familial connections due to thinking and opinions that were socially outside-the-box. Fortunately, as time has passed and the social conscience has evolved, many of the formerly mainstream mindsets and ideals regarding those topics have become socially unacceptable or unappreciated. There are even a growing host of laws that protect those citizens who once suffered discrimination.
Businesses and corporations aren’t immune to the circumstances, either. Businesses are being forced to accept the evolving standards of behavior and socially conscious manners being adopted by the public at large. Failure to do so may sometimes result in their products and services being boycotted, or at the very least pronounced losses of profits or market share.
It’s at moments such as these that I reflect upon the historical trek of society and culture, and I marvel over how quickly – or conversely, how slowly – contemporary thought can change, depending upon the issue at hand.
As an author, I’m grateful that I have the constitutionally protected right to extemporize on controversial topics or conditions both for entertainment purposes and perhaps, if I’m fortunate, to generate contemplative thought on those topics or circumstances. But I’m also ever-aware that negative reviews might be forthcoming for my efforts. It’s over that realization that I issue my sincere and heartfelt thanks to each of you who supports me and my creative works. Without advocates, I might truly feel that Katrina, Caleb, and I are out there on a proverbial island by ourselves. And while I’m willing to accept that possibility, it’s so much happier to enjoy the shared company of others on the island, as well. I cherish your fellowship and support.
Peace!