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LETTER: Free speech means freedom to call out bad opinions

"Someone can reserve their right to an opinion, but I reserve my right to call that opinion the garbage that it is."

Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing. It allows each person to express their ideas freely, without fear of reprisal. What doesn’t it do? Protect us from having another person call our ideas garbage! (If a group, corporation or government did so, that might be considered censorship – another story).

So, loosely in response in to Kelly Kerr’s Aug. 12 letter, “No one deserves to be personally attacked for writing an opinion,” I agree with the statement of avoiding personal attacks when writing or responding to a letter. However, in regards to mask-wearing, a lot of people – who may be fine, upstanding citizens otherwise – have very dumb opinions!

Dumb opinions are open to being called out at any time, but are especially vulnerable when it comes to this respiratory pandemic. Almost everyone can wear a mask to no ill effect. Oxygen levels don’t deplete. You don’t re-inhale carbon dioxide. It’s not an affront to human rights.

Compare two other well-known failsafes in our society: vaccines and seatbelts. There is an extremely small number of people who really, really, really cannot have a vaccine. So the rest of us vaccinate to help give that person protection they wouldn’t otherwise have. There is, however an increasing number of people who refuse to vaccinate, even though they can do so safely. This behaviour should be pointed out for the reckless one that it is! Compare it to seatbelts. Would any of us accept the argument: “I don’t need to wear a seatbelt ... I know better. My Body, My Choice!”? Well, it sounds silly doesn’t it? If a person crashes their car, flies out of the seat, and that car continues on to run someone else over, it was only their body now, was it?

To compare to vaccination, there is an infinitesimally small number of people who shouldn’t be forced to wear a mask, even though it probably wouldn’t hurt. However, there is, again, that increasing number of people who are sheep – to use their own words against them – and believe any content they read online, and think they shouldn’t wear a mask. Who are the sheep? The ones who read, and parrot word for word, alternative slop from crummy, easily-debunked websites, or the ones who understand and respect science?

Someone can reserve their right to an opinion, but I reserve my right to call that opinion the garbage that it is. May freedom of speech persist!

Damon Davies, St. Albert


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