As citizens of America, our rights are something we hold very near and dear to our hearts. It is the bread and butter of our nation, our freedoms and rights as Americans to withhold and use at our own discretion. The right to bear arms, respect of religion and what some consider most important — freedom of speech.
So why does it seem as though we are in a constant standoff with each other as to what constitutes free speech? You could technically rattle anything off and receive no punishment due to your right as an American, with the exception of potentially being wrong.
The Supreme Court has stated there are indeed categories of speech that are not considered “free” and has allowed for the government to intervene in proper times and places.
The government can essentially interpret what you are trying to say, then proceed to react appropriately based on the message you are trying to send or convey.
Inside the government, we have rules and regulations that prevent us from going off tangents in public places like the workplace, schools and now: gyms.
Planet Fitness in Midland, Mich., recently took away the membership of a female, Yvette Cormier, for her excessive complaining of a transgender person using the women’s locker room to change. By making the environment uncomfortable and violating their “no judgment zone” policy, Planet Fitness found it appropriate to revoke Cormier’s membership.
Releasing a statement that touched based on their mission, Planet Fitness explained how they handled the situation:
“Planet Fitness is committed to creating a non-intimidating, welcoming environment for our members. Our gender identity non-discrimination policy states that members and guests may use all gym facilities based on their sincere self-reported gender identity. The manner in which this member expressed her concerns about the policy exhibited behavior that management at the Midland club deemed inappropriate and disruptive to other members, which is a violation of the membership agreement and as a result her membership was cancelled.”
This is a hot topic at the moment due to the outrage at what some are considering a violation of free speech. While Cormier is allowed to have her beliefs and say what she feels, she is also under the impression that other establishments disallow offensive or upsetting language.
Planet Fitness is one of the very first gyms to understand why working out in public is so dreaded. It has created an environment “in which anyone – and we mean anyone – can be comfortable. A diverse, Judgement Free Zone where a lasting, active lifestyle can be built.”
They go on to explain that it is a safe and energetic environment and “everyone feels accepted and respected.” Cormier was stopping Planet Fitness from carrying on their mission and policies, so they found it best in their interests to eliminate her from the establishment.
While I love the idea that I can run through the streets and shout nonsense at the top of my lungs, I know that doesn’t stop the law enforcement from arresting me for disturbing the peace.
A freedom of one right does not mean you are free from another. For example, a Lisbon, N.D., woman – who had recently moved to the U.S. from Africa – was arrested for “praying too loud” outside, late at night. You’re allowed to have your beliefs and to share them, but once you become a disruption is when you are going to find trouble.
Cormier was allowed to be uncomfortable around a transgender person changing, but is expected to behave like a human being and not force others to be uncomfortable about the situation.
While some believe it is a catch-22, it isn’t. You just have to understand your rights, how to use them and most importantly, how to respect them.