Weve seen this again and again. Some misguided person inserts an inordinately large foot into his equally oversized mouth usually purposefully with full faculties intact and draws howls of outrage from an offended audience.
In response, all sorts of people inevitably leap to the defense, citing a potentially powerful but not necessarily relevant argument.
Its called freedom of speech! theyll say. Ever heard of it?
Unfortunately in these cases, yes too often.
Our most recent local instance involved the loose-lipped rodeo clown who used the arena in Creston as his stage for a litany of off-color jokes.
But we see this all the time, from crude comments made by blowhards on the radio (like Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke a slut) to intentionally inflammatory expressions generated by overzealous no-names (like that hack of a filmmaker with his anti-Islam hit piece).
Yes, they all have the right to mouth off.
But just because you can say something, doesnt mean you should.
And it also doesnt mean you wont face consequences.
You have the freedom to speak your mind, and we have the freedom to hold you accountable for your foolishness, using whatever social and economic forces that may be appropriate.
Of course, there are extremes that go beyond what even the Constitution will protect.
Hate speech or overt threats, for example, will have a good chance of earning you a ride in a police car.
Whoevers behind the harassment of Mission Prep athletic director Bailey Brown now has the FBI on their trail and will likely face criminal charges if caught.
Of course, most cases of badly conceived speech dont rise to this level.
The rodeo clown, Mike Hayhurst, didnt say anything that would land him behind bars.
But he said more than enough to cause himself all kinds of personal grief.
Hes out of a gig in Creston, and I doubt well see him dodging bulls anywhere else on the Central Coast any time soon.
Even more seriously, hes now lost his day job as well, having resigned as superintendent of a charter school in Victorville.
This is a heavy price to pay for speaking without thinking.
Its a sobering lesson for all the aspiring loudmouths out there, as well as those who would defend them: You have a right to say whats on your mind.
But youd be smart to mind what you say.
Joe Tarica is the presentation editor for The Tribune. Reach him at email@example.com.