Freedom of speech in friendship

Dear friend,

Some time ago, I remember you and my other friend, whom we will call N, had a fight. I think it was that N posted a picture of you and him and some others on the Internet without your permission.

Then some time later, you said…well, you didn’t say the nicest things about N. I think you said he was stupid, because the next thing I knew, I was really burning with rage inside.

But I didn’t show it directly. I used sarcasm, which normally I would not use, and I said, “Hey, guess what? I’m stupid! Because I identify with N in a lot of ways!” I actually do see a lot of similarities. N is one of my very best friends.

Now, I am fine with being stupid. But then you got mad and said that I was shutting you up with your opinion. And I’m sorry to say this so bluntly, but I gotta tell you: I was really, really hurt. I don’t like to hear that my friends are fighting, either. I wish all my friends would be on peaceful terms with each other. Some nights, I pray, “Dear Jesus, please help my friends forgive each other and be friends again.” My eyes are watering as I write this.

Dang it. I gotta go get some tissues. Hold on one second while I blow my nose.

I’m back. I get that the American Constitution protects your right to freedom of speech, but it protects mine as well. And while this right is not enumerated in the Constitution, yes, every one of us has the right to get mad if we do not agree with each other’s opinion. There are, of course, some limits, but I think our words were safely within them.

But as I look back, I’ve been wondering, what is the role of freedom of speech in friendship? Our words–were they okay to say even if they were constitutional? Because while they were constitutional, I’m quite certain they weren’t something friends would normally say to each other, and I know we both offended each other, dear friend. We have had quite some ups and downs.

I have been asking this question for months and I have not found a sufficient answer.

So I have had to come up with my own answer, and it is this: you’re free to say your opinion if you will let me state mine, but consideration of the other person is strongly encouraged.

And finally, I’m truly sorry for what I said, and I hope this is good enough.



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