There seems to be some sort of disconnect these days concerning the privilege of free speech. Specifically, the idea that just because you can say whatever you want should you say whatever you want?
I believe that everyone has the right to have his or her own opinion about any topic that strikes their fancy. I've been known to have opinions as well & to voice them whenever it seemed necessary. However, if you insist that I respect your right to have an opinion then I must insist that you respect my right to think you're a jag-off for the way you express that opinion.
Let's take any topic that could be considered controversial (gay marriage, abortion, religion, politics, Joel vs. Mike on MST3K.) Now, for our example, let's replace the hot button topic with the word "cookies." Here's how it's gonna go down:
If you say that you are not in favor of cookies, but I am, then I'm going to chalk it up to a difference of opinion. Live & let live, no harm, no foul.
If you say that cookies are what's wrong with the world today, I'll probably try and engage you in a discussion on the pros vs. cons of cookies and their effects on society. As long as we're having a (reasonably) adult and (somewhat) mature debate, once again: Live & let live, no harm, no foul.
But if you go around saying things like, "Cookies are evil. Anyone who likes cookies should be beaten within an inch of their lives. Cookies are for ignorant, weak willed morons and I will mock anyone who has ever or will ever support or endorse cookies because I am superior to them. Their opinions don't count. If they had any brains, they would listen to me...I like crackers!!" Then, I'm not going to try and discuss our inherent differences even though I might see the merits of crackers.
What I'm going to do is think you're a jag-off who isn't really so in love with crackers as he is with the sound of his own voice. And if you decide to slam cookie lovers on the internet (the national headquarters of hit & run opinions), then you've moved up from jag-off to d-bag pretty quickly.
I know there are people who live their lives with 100% honesty & refuse to sugarcoat their opinions. But the people I know who are like that will deal with others one-on-one when they have a differing viewpoint. They won't throw a verbal hand grenade & hide behind the "I'm entitled to my opinion" defense.
Sure, you can spout off any opinion you like...it's a free country. But don't be surprised when not everyone agrees with you.