The White of Free Speech

The White of Free Speech
Rachel Birdsell Curious Crow

Rachel Birdsell
Curious Crow

Flemington, New Jersey’s very own Jim Boggess just lost his business.

Once upon a time, he owned a deli where he served the fine people of Flemington salami, pastrami, and other meats that end in –ami. He probably served some not-so-fine people, too.

On March 1st of this year, Jim decided to post a sign on the door of his establishment that read, “Celebrate your white heritage in March, White History Month.” I’m sure that in the moment Jim was beside himself with pride of the whitest variety, but he soon noticed that his business was rapidly dying. By the second week of this month, Jim had another sign on the door that read, “Forced out of business.”

Isn’t it convenient how Jim denied all responsibility for his business’ demise, and instead made the choice to play the victim instead? He was forced to be a bigot. He was forced to announce his bigotry to his customers. He was forced to close his business. Everyone else is forcing him to do this, and all because they don’t understand that all Jim wants to do is to celebrate how super awesomely white he is.

He just wants the history books, besides the myriads of books that are already out there, to recognize the contributions that white people have made to this country. Just think what our history might look like without white people. More than likely there would have been no slavery, no Civil War, no genocide of Native Americans, no NASCAR, no wrestling, no monster trucks or countless other atrocities. Without white folk like Jim, you just can’t put the ‘Merica in America.

Jim doesn’t seem to have a grasp on how whitewashed our history has been. Until the civil rights movement, what was taught in history class? A lot about white men, and little about anyone else. If Jim really can’t see how white history has been and still is so prevalent that it doesn’t need a special month in order to receive recognition, he doesn’t know much about history.

Some people are yammering about how Jim should be allowed to have freedom of speech, and how he should be able to put whatever sign he wants on his own business. They’re right. He should, and he did. No one told Jim he couldn’t have the sign in the window.

But, his patrons let him know with their wallets that they didn’t approve of his sign. This is exactly how freedom of speech works. In fact, it could be the flowchart for how free speech works. Free speech isn’t consequence-free speech. Go ahead and blurt out the dumbest shit you can think of. Make a sign about how much you’re against whatever minority you’re against. Hell, hate all of them if that’s what blows your skirt up. But, don’t expect there to not be any consequences for your words, and don’t be shocked when those consequences are swift and severe at times.

Welcome to America, bigots, and vive la free speech!

— Rachel Birdsell is a freelance writer and graphic artist. You can reach her at

Categories: Commentary