Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Taking the First

I went to a viewing of the film "Taking the First" http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0164530/ tonight.  After the viewing, we had a discussion facilitated by a professor at the local law school. The film was very interesting.  We were asked to think about, as we viewed the film, if the case went to appeal, and we could influence a judge on the appeals panel, how would we influence the judge.

The point was about the first amendment, the right to free speech, as we think of it in an inexact and not legal sense. And, it is a story about the consequences of speech.

Before I went to work in the prison, I was very careless with my speech.  I made statements that I probably did not mean.  We have all heard them:  "I could have shot someone."  "I could have slapped someone."  We really do not mean we would do that.  We are expressing a desire to take an action that hopefully indicates the level of our emotion, with no actual intent to take the action.   Well, I do not do that anymore.  I will not say "I would do anything for..."  I might say "I could spit nails."  I suppose someone could accuse me of harming them by my spitting nails, but more power to them, if they can. Frankly, I can not imagine spitting nails...It sounds very painful to the spitter. 

Speech is important. Words do hurt. We can not take them back. We need to be aware of how our words impact and influence others. It is not that we should not be direct, upfront and honest.  But tact, sincerity, respect and dignity go a long way....

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