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The Suburbanite
  • Charita Goshay: Price paid for free speech lost on some of us

  • This week in Well, No Kidding News, two women recently lost their jobs after posting a photo on Facebook showing them mocking a “Silence and Respect” sign at Arlington National Cemetery outside of Washington, D.C.

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  • This week in Well, No Kidding News, two women recently lost their jobs after posting a photo on Facebook showing them mocking a “Silence and Respect” sign at Arlington National Cemetery outside of Washington, D.C.
    Sure. Because when you think “outrageous prank,” Arlington National Cemetery is what should come to mind.
    Lindsey Stone, who was pictured shouting and making an obscene gesture, and Jamie Schuh, who snapped the photo, have tried to walk it back but are discovering that even in the Age of the Apology, “sorry” doesn’t fix everything.
    Certainly, it wasn’t enough for their employer, a nonprofit agency that serves the developmentally disabled, which had sent the two to Washington on business.
    It definitely didn’t appease the thousands of Americans who called for their heads  via Facebook.
    THE TRIGGER
    What is it about social media that trips the trigger for some people who are not only compelled to do something stupid but also to show thousands of strangers that they’ve done it?
    Besides, why didn’t Stone and Schuh take their antics to Capitol Hill, where mockery might actually do some good?
    Perhaps it’s indicative of what happens when people haven’t a clue as to who they are and how they came to be. That Stone hails from Plymouth, Mass., of all places, is a detail that simply can’t be made up.
    But the anger they engendered isn’t just about the photo. It’s also about what their actions communicated, namely a lack of the most basic respect and an abject ignorance about who lies beneath the sod of Arlington and why.
    THE HARD WAY
    Even in an era when everyone is “outraged” over something, it’s about Stone’s being surprised that her actions made so many people furious.
    It’s about there even needing to be a sign asking visitors to be respectful at a cemetery. Who has to be told such a thing?
    It’s about thinking.
    The U.S. Army infantry regiment that guards the Tomb of the Unknowns, which is located near the “Silence and Respect” sign, took the high road, stating simply that Stone and Schuh are entitled to freedom of speech. The irony is, of course, that they were denigrating the resting place of people who helped to make that freedom possible.
    But the First Amendment protects individual speech only from censorship by the government. It doesn’t shield us from the consequences of our words. The Road to Perdition is paved with the careers of people who ignore this caveat.
    Stone and Schuh have learned the hard way: The Constitution doesn’t protect your paycheck.