OPINION | Artists and audience need to think before they post, tweet and film

Free Speech Week was two weeks ago, and I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how great a privilege free speech really is.

But the more I contemplate it, the more a certain phrase keeps popping into my head—just because I can doesn’t mean I should.

And with so many outlets for free expression today (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, tumblr), it’s easier than ever for one to express their opinion on a whim without careful consideration of the broader scope of their actions.

A friend of mine recently showed me a music video on YouTube called “Throw that Bitch a Bagel (Bitches Love Bagels)” by Deuce Deuce, a band that has performed several times on Butler University’s campus.

Some of my female friends expressed a sense of personal offense taken from the video and its lyrics like “Bitches love floor sex / Bitch you gettin’ blown out / And we ain’t even keepin’ score yet.”

Josh Whitaker, a member of Deuce Deuce and a Butler student, explained that the song wasn’t meant as offensive and involved inside jokes.

“It’s about me, just a kid doing something I love doing, with a sense of humor that not everyone agrees with,” Whitaker said. “But I don’t expect everyone to laugh at my jokes.”

Having only come across the video by accident, I had no idea there was subtext to the song, so I initially had to take it at face value.

I’m not easily offended by things, so the song didn’t upset me. It was more funny than anything and employed remarkably high quality video production.

However, free expression involves both the expresser and the audience, and any expression, especially artistically, is subject to personal interpretation and potential controversy.

A blogger or YouTube user might not consider the fact that they are a representation of their community. They might overlook that just because they’re trying to appeal to a certain group of people doesn’t mean that someone else might see what they post.

Just because I have the means to express myself doesn’t mean that every thought I have needs to be expressed—I realize the irony of saying this in an opinion article.

Responsible free expression considers the consequences before blogging. It takes into account the audience, both intended and unintended, before posting a video. It accurately expresses the author’s thoughts and intentions while acknowledging potential alternative interpretations, positive and negative.

Whether it’s entertainment or discourse, responsible free speech requires that an author  convey their thoughts clearly, or be willing to handle the consequences of misinterpretation. Conversely, a responsible audience should seek to understand the author’s true intention.

Being able to express oneself is great. We shouldn’t ignore the right to express ourselves. But taking it for granted is just as ignorant as not using it at all.

People need to find a responsible balance. Think before you speak.

Just because you can express something doesn’t mean you should.


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  1. John Gilpin said:

    You’ve got to be kidding me. Is this what it’s come to now? I understand the opinion expressed in this article completely. However I do not agree, as well as many others. Maybe you should be the one to “…find a responsible balance. Think before you speak.” I think you should have though TWICE (or more) about expressing your opinion. Why am I expressing my opinion? Well for one, I’m a good friend of the artist Josh Whitaker, and one of the biggest fans of Deuce Deuce. Also, I am a Recording Industry Studies major here at Butler. Music and things like production, promotion, and performing are things that we take pride in within this major, (hence why we chose the major). These things are WHAT WE DO. Music is about expression, no matter what anyone else thinks. If one didn’t express them self in their music then what would it consist of? Whoever has taken offense to this must have secondary reasons as to why they are “taking offense” to this song. Do us all a favor, and keep your hatred to yourself, because there is no reason to disrespect someone over something they are passionate about. Especially when it’s someone who has done no harm to anyone in the first place. And for those of you fans out there; download the new mixtape: Drainhead Musick Volume 2. http://www.mediafire.com/?ubs6iy3sd4p3ts8