Social Media, Free Speech & An Apology

I have long been a supporter of free speech. My thoughts are this; you are free to say what you want and I will defend that right; but I also have the right to disagree with your free speech. Free speech is the cornerstone of the United States and many men and women have died defending it. It is so important that our Founding Fathers made it the FIRST Amendment to our Constitution. In short, preserving free speech is paramount to the freedom that we enjoy in the U.S.The advent of social media is causing media outlets and others to discuss and evaluate free speech questions. A recent poll on Facebook asking if President Barack Obama should be killed raised many questions about the limits of free speech on social media sites. The complete article is listed on SunSentinal.com and can be read here.  Does the fact that social media is more open and accessible by all, writers and readers alike, make it a unique platform that is different when it comes to free speech?  I personally don’t think so, but this question is going to be debated for some time to come.

Recently comments made by a DJ on the public airwaves has caused a social media movement that is fascinating to watch unfold.On October 10, Dave Ryan, a morning show host for KDWB in Minneapolis, Minnesota, tweeted that people who claim to have fibromyalgia should be shot.There is a large group of fibromyalgia sufferers on Twitter and once this hit the public stream, it spread like wildfire.  Obviously the people that deal with fibro on a daily basis  have been outraged and rightly so in my opinion.  One thing I have learned from a close friend that has fibro is that a lot of people, doctors, family, friends and even complete strangers do not take them or this disease seriously.   This group of individuals have banded together and have taken social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook by storm in an attempt to get Dave Ryan to apologize.  There is a Facebook Cause: Fibromyalgia Sufferers Against Dave Ryan.  Since the Cause started a couple of days ago, it has added over 1000 members!!Rarely have I witnessed a more dedicated group of individuals; they are using social media and free speech to demand an apology from Dave Ryan and I am sure they will get it. The precedent has been set, at least as it applies to radio personalities. Remember Don Imus?Dave Ryan has responded to one outraged fibro sufferer via email saying that it was a joke and they didn’t get it. That has only fueled their determination to get what they want; an apology. Is this a good use of social media? Should Dave Ryan be forced to apologize? You tell me what you think; either way, it is a case study in how social media can garner support for a cause.Now I come to the apology part of this post. Someone that I am very close to, Bev Wallace, is a fibro sufferer. Full Disclosure: I serve as President of the Board for Bev’s Charity, Crafters with Love. Bev is one of the people leading the charge to bring this whole Dave Ryan episode into the public light and she has fought tirelessly day and night since he made his comments on October 10th.   Her efforts have made a difference; Dave Ryan’s staff has blocked her from posting on his Facebook Fan Page and they are trying to get her banned on Facebook itself. Anyone that knows Bev knows that she will never, ever quit until she reaches her goal; an apology from Dave Ryan.Although I have supported her efforts by Tweeting and Re-Tweeting her information as well as joining the Facebook Cause, I have not done enough to help and support someone that I am close to and that I work with; for that Bev, I apologize to you.  I knew how important this is to you and to other fibro sufferers and I am willing to do whatever I can to help.

Comments

  1. Kathy Howell says:

    Dear Mr. Lusher, Thank you for your blog. Yes, free speech is vital to this country, but it only goes so far until social norms are violated, and those who are already hurting are hurt more by ignorance and thoughtless words. Mr. Ryan violated those social norms, by intimating that fibromyalgia survivors are not worth a measly 7 minutes of his time. I have the Facebook group, Facebook Fibromyalgia Patients Unite!, and asked my group to join the cause. I only learned about it on Thursday, but I went to bat for Jen Reynolds, and emailed the Director of Communications & Marketing at Clear Channel.It’s not so much that he said it on air, but he had to Tweet it too? We are grateful that Mr. Ryan has apologized to the Fibromyalgia community at large. His 7 minutes of being inconvenienced, while waiting for a fibromyalgia patient to disembark from an airplane is NOTHING compared to the amount inconvenience we Fibromyalgia patients endure everyday. As your friend, Bev, can attest, we all had active lives before fibromyalgia, but not as much as now. There are times that I would love to be able to get out and go for a walk, but I know that I will be too tired to get back home.Thank you again for continuing the fight for fibromyalgia survivors, and being an advocate for your friend, and thereby for us all. One more person who understands our disease is one less brick to knock down in the walls that fibromyalgia builds around us.

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