There are limitations in the right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference, subject to the laws against libel, incitement to violence or rebellion, etc. There are limitations within the freedom of speech.

I find myself squeezed into an interesting dilemma, now seeded and festering in my little head. This incident was triggered while attending a work meeting that left me oddly imbalanced about my own views.

As a liberal and true Democratic centered American, I treat my job assignments – even in foreign lands –  born here but raised in Switzerland, integrated to US constitutional rights perspectives as a grown-up;

In a historical sense, Switzerland copied federalism from the United States, while the US took the idea of direct democracy from Switzerland. “But in fact, neither the Americans nor the Swiss was the inventors of these concepts, which are important elements of both States today.

Indeed, modern direct democracy – characterized by votes on initiatives and referendums – shapes everyday political life in the US as in almost no other country in the world – except Switzerland.

Today, it is considered that Benjamin Franklin – one of the founding fathers of the US – took his inspiration for writing the first American federalist constitution from the Iroquois Native American tribe. As a Swiss-American, I like the prior opinion better…

I often find myself alert in a quench between the restrictive laws when visiting foreign lands and my personal(-city) approach to say what I want. My respect for our home constitution outlining my freedom of speech has defined a comfortable boundary wherein I act. I struggle to respect the restrictive laws of other nations. It pains me when peers here in the US do not understand how amazing it is that we can disrespect another and voice any opinions, that we can engage in political, philosophical debacles (in public), or tell a police officer to “shut up.”

In reverse: When people from other places arrive in the US, they bring with them home-grown habits indoctrinated hesitance, and when they reflect philosophical views, it often is cautiously worded. I find myself encouraging: say it. However, it comes out!

During the aforementioned staff meeting, I was told not to talk to others about things that bother me; not to voice an emotional view, instead of to “report” to the manager when others do so… At first, this seemed an absurd request; oppressing my first amendment rights. I even thought there was a cultural hurdle. But, it turns out Employees who work in the private sector do not, as a rule, have First Amendment protection for their speech in the workplace.

Worse: The freedom of employers to terminate employment at any time, for any reason means that employees in private industry have no legal rights to freedom of speech. Simply, as a private citizen who is not in the public eye, the law extends a lesser degree of constitutional protection to the Managers statements at issue.

Over the nearly 50 years of my existence, respecting a fair standard of living, embracing both constitutions with a dose of moral principles (as I believe the Founding Fathers naively expected) and a healthy respect for Mother Earth, that – no law fairly includes the extremes on either end of a philosophical perspective. Yes, you can call your mom an “asshole,” and many groups test their “freedom” with extreme (ab-)use on social media. But being told at my workplace that I shall not express an opinion, critique, or compulsive notions to avoid jeopardizing my employment… felt wrong.

As a private chef, you don’t reach my level by just blabbering what you want…

The current political turmoil reflects my ponder: The mood and dismay witnessing the competing aspirations to the Presidency on both the Republican and Democratic sides. The growing mass of demonstrations expressing dislike, discrepancies of wealth in a pre-election country. 98 percent of today’s US Senators are registered millionaires, debating if the richest should be taxed more to bail out our failing economy. 98 percent of the population make up the “other reality” with an average income that renders them unable to reach the American dream.

But, we have the right to voice our opinion, debacle and word our dismay, demanding changes and partake in a public (peaceful) process without fearing political retaliation. Some of us can do that by perfectly choosing the words and yet strike as painfully a message as another does, screaming obscurities while foaming from the mouth with eyes bulging out of their skull!

As an employee, I conclude that the manager over-reached, creating a work environment that does not invite trust and respect. Communication should be encouraged. Hired in the private sector, we don’t need to be told that we have no “freedom of speech.” I’ve chosen without the “law” not to call any mother and asshole. I just don’t; hence I am employed here…   I know that any debate with fists and weapons or under “threat” is too simple for my decorum. That manager is misplaced!

The USA, a young Nation, is still in her teens, freshly scarred by tested ideas… I believe that voicing my every thought (often only in my head) has liberated me from becoming an introverted recluse. I respect different ideas framed with discipline and strive for a medium, a comfortable balance – although constantly going to either edge, mentally… just for fun!


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