I'm not sure this is news, but Americans love their freedom of speech--mostly as it applies to criticizing others. Whether the criticism is for the President for choosing to appear on the View or the mayor for a quote he made, people online and "live" are all over it. Modern media probably couldn't exist without it and certainly is encouraging of it. Still, is it that people are afraid that their freedoms are being taken away and so they are getting in their final digs before the socialist-, Nazi-, Big Brother, Corporate-, Dictatorial-Government boot finally comes down? Or is it that Americans are predisposed to believe that their ideas and opinions are as valid as anyone elses, regardless of the subject and without regard of anyone elses' feelings?
In any case, all this critic-speak and punditicism seems to be leading to cautious action or poor action from our political leaders--fearing they will either lose power or cede power to the other side. We the people do not play by the same rules (and perhaps why we are so "mouthy"). To illustrate my point, think of a decision you make every day--going to work, taking your child to school, whatever. Now imagine if the roof of your house were removed if and giants were looking in on you as you were getting ready to do your daily routine. How weird would it be for someone to tell you how to dress or what to feed your child? Yet every day we opine about other people and their choices like somehow we know better than them what is best for them to do.
In the political realm this makes politicans do nutty things like making legislation that made sense when proposed into legislation that is, well, not very good. Thinking back a few years, do you think the "doughnut hole" in Medicare magically appeared? Probably not. Probably a perfectly well-crafted bill was watered down because of well-orchestrated criticism. So, rather than scrap the whole bill, legislatorive staff hammered out the details to make the buill palatable until, guess what, there was a doughnut hole in Medicare.
I'll grant you that being the President or the mayor carries extra weight than the rest of us carry, but it does not mean that their humanity should be sacrificed in the wake of someone else needing to express their opinion. And it certainly goes double for others whose opinion you choose to slash in burn as a comment to a newspaper or over the phone when you call in to speak on a radio talk show.
I do not suggest that people shouldn't be critical of others. That would be hypocritical coming from a blogger like me--particularly as I am currently being critical of others (maybe even you, I don't know). I do suggest that being critical should also balanced with a recognition that we are all human beings and should be treated with respect. I have failed on this point in the past and likely will in the future. However, if we can't hold out higher standards for ourselves, what good is all the freedom?
And, by the way, in the unlikely event that our freedom of speech is going to be taken away in the near future by whomever--to that oppressor I respectfully say in advance, go f!@k yourself.