Use your freedom of speech, please

By on November 11, 2009

Just out of curiosity, does anyone speak anymore? Or have we all lost the ability to confront one another?

Let me explain my frustration with my most recent, but definitely not my last, encounter with embarrassment.

I am going to blame this lapse of judgment on the fact that I had a cold and was not thinking clearly, but this is not really an excuse since I feel like everyone on campus is either coughing or blowing their nose.

Nevertheless, to set my stage, I was feeling under the weather and decided to watch a movie that is required for my Ethics and Diversity class. I took the movie out from the library, found a cubicle right in the middle of a lengthy row, popped the DVD into my laptop and put my headphones on. The movie I watched is a documentary entitled “The N Word.” So naturally, that word is repeated hundreds of times over.

I am sitting there, in my own little world of my cubicle, being educated on the origins of the “N word.” I kept turning the volume down because I wanted to make sure the person next to me could not hear the noise in my headphones, because I know I hate when I have to hear someone blasting Miley or Jay-Z when I am trying to do my accounting homework.

So here I am, at the lowest volume setting, thinking I am being courteous, but also slightly confused why this level is so audible, when I get a tap on the shoulder from the person in the cubicle next to me. I want to say I was watching this movie for at least seven solid minutes, and this guy says to me, “Everyone can hear that.” Perplexed, I look down at my headphone jack; turns out I put the things on my head but did not plug them in. So here I am, with buffers on my ears, blasting the “N word” throughout the entire Arnold Bernard library for seven minutes. And it was not until a merciful guy next to me brought my space cadet moment to my attention that the madness stopped.

So what does this have to do with everyone not speaking? Why did anyone let me get past the DVD intro!? The second the banjo music and the “N word” repeated in different dialects started is the time when someone should have interjected and said, “Hey idiot, plug the headphones in.” I never got to fully thank the boy who finally told me because I was so flustered at the time, so I want to thank you, boy in the Red Sox sweatshirt.

Have we seriously gotten to the point where even if someone is doing something stupid and needs to be told, we would rather curse them under our breaths than just tell them? After I was tapped out of my cubicle-space world, I could feel the tension in the air, the rows of students that wanted to slap me in the back of the head. I think I even heard someone say something along the lines of, “it’s been dealt with.”

Have we reached the point where we would rather tattle to the library staff downstairs before confrontation? Confronting people sucks but it is a part of life, and unfortunately, it is not something they teach you in class. So do me a favor and say what you are thinking. I learned in my International Business class that the United States is one of the more forward countries in saying what they mean. Well if that is the case I do not even want to know how long I would have been sitting in a Japanese library listening to that movie.

We need to stop internalizing things that bug us and complaining to everyone except the person who needs to hear it. You have the freedom of speech; therefore, you have the right to object to listening to a movie against your will.

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