Category Archives: life

“You have the right to free speech … unless I don’t like what you’re saying”

The great thing about the United States is that we all don’t have to be united under one belief.

We’re free to choose who to pray to (if anybody), we’re free to choose our favorite sports teams and we’re free to have our own political beliefs. We’re free to be free.

We have the right to be free and express our beliefs how we choose.

It says so in the Constitution, right there under under the Bill of Rights. It’s Amendment I — most commonly referred to as the “First Amendment.”

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The government doesn’t dictate how, or if, we pray.

The government doesn’t tell us not to support something.

The government doesn’t limit newspapers or websites or even stop protests (yes, there are certain ordinances in place depending on your municipality).

Simply put: You. Are. Free. To. Speak. Your. Mind.

So why do some folks want to keep others from doing that? Specifically, this post was written out of frustrations I have with a friend of mine — Ginny Montanez. She’s the writer behind That’s Church, the popular Pittsburgh-focused blog.

In a post Monday, Montanez asked Pittsburgh Steelers player Rashard Mendenhall to “delete your Twitter account.”

Why did Montanez, who is afforded the same rights as Mendenhall, ask him to do this? She apparently doesn’t agree with what he is saying on his Twitter account.

Mendenhall has come under fire for comments he has made about women and about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Montanez is free to disagree with Mendenhall’s comments, but asking him to remove his Twitter account simply because she does not agree with his opinions goes against everything the United States was founded on.

On my personal Facebook profile, a discussion waged on about the issue (last count, there were 46 comments on this one shared link).

Some of the comments suggested I was out of line or that I shouldn’t share my opinion. But what many folks who shared their comments fail to realize is that (1) I did not say whether I agree or disagree with Mendenhall’s remarks and (2) I was simply defending his right to post whatever it is he wants.

You, me and anybody that’s a citizen of this country has the right to speak. And, people have the right not to listen. But what we can’t do is expect somebody to stop giving their opinion simply because we don’t agree.

I’ll defend anybody’s right to free speech. I don’t care if their view and mine are completely opposite of one another. What matters is that they are free to share their thought.

Great debates allow us to find new respect for one’s views, and, possibly, to change our own views.

When this discussion comes up, I always reference the Westboro Baptist Church, who are known for protesting funerals of soldiers who have been killed. The group often carries signs that say, “God hates fags.”

Their decision to protest funerals of solders seems to be unpopular among many individuals and other groups. But, like it or not, they are given that right under the United States’ Constitution. Their protests are peaceful (to my knowledge). They literally stand on a corner holding signs.

So they are legally within their right to do so. As are the folks who gather at another corner to protest the Westboro group.

When I defend their right, people automatically assume I support their beliefs and begin attacking me. It always puzzles me.

But, it comes back to one point — some people fundamentally don’t truly believe EVERYBODY has the right to free speech.

Bridezilla: A Man’s Perspective

It’s safe to say, most weddings you’ve attended or will attend won’t be as lavish as next week’s royal wedding, where some estimates claim the price tag for Prince William and Catherine Middleton tying the knot could be as high as $64 million.

Read more in my weekly column at Twoday Magazine.

There’s no place like Erie and there’s nothing like great friends

I had a chance to get to Erie this past weekend. For those who know me, you know that I love Erie and everything it has to offer. There is no better place in the world.

I always have fun in Erie, and this weekend was no exception. My 24-hour visit included a SeaWolves game, Sara’s, Wegmans and a friend’s baby’s first birthday party. There never is enough time to experience all of Erie.

I traveled with a good friend of mine who is, for the most part, unfamiliar with Erie. So it’s always great to introduce somebody else to all of what Erie has to offer. He had been with me and another friend in February when we went to an Otters game.

After living there for awhile and going there each summer as a child, I’ve grown to love and respect the lake town. I’ve always said that Erie has EVERYTHING a big city has, just on a smaller scale. I’ve never found a town with more things to do in all four seasons than I have in Erie.

The great thing about Erie — and probably why it continues to shine — is that the city and county don’t need anything big or sparkly or attractive or commercialized to get people to visit. The beaches, the great sports teams, the history, the food, the shopping, the wineries — what the heck else do you need to have a great time?

What I found most unexpected in this trip was the quality time my friend and I were able to spend together. The car ride to and from Erie offered a lot of time to talk about stuff we’ve never been able to for an extended period of time — or, for that matter, in person. And the hotel night also was fun as we watched TV until about 4 a.m.

While the SeaWolves game on Saturday was a bit chilly, it still was a good time. The SeaWolves lost to Altoona, though. But it still provided a great time filled with lots of entertainment. Summer games are better than early season games, but I can never get to enough SeaWolves games!

Seeing a few great friends of college helped to make the weekend even better. They’re two of my best pals from college and I rarely see them. It was fun to blend old and new friends.

Trips to Erie always are too short. After living there for a bit, I hate feeling like a visitor in a city I love so dearly.

One of these days, I’ll get there for an extended trip like I did a few summers ago. There’s so much to experience in Erie!