Freedom of speech is an interesting thing, isn't it. It's what allows you to sit in the privacy of your own home and say "Oh, I don't like Cormorants, they wet their nests", without the pro-Cormorant lobby breaking down your door and carting you away to the funny farm, there to be rehabilitated.
It is - like most concepts - hideously abused by some.
Just because you have something you want to say, it doesn't mean that I have to listen to it, agree with it, or give it any credibility at all. You have the right to say that you think that all children under the age of three should be shot. I have the equal right to say that you are a slavering idiot.
In the post-blog epoch, the place to get your rabid pointless message across to the masses is in the comments section of an online newspaper. It's brilliant. You don't need to justify your opinion, you don't need to read anyone else's comments, you don't even need to read anyone else's reply. You can just shout your meaningless shite into the ether, and because you are brilliant, everyone who reads it will come to your support. How brilliant is that?
It's not brilliant. It is, occasionally, funny, though.
I found myself teetering on the brink of doing it. On the BBC News web site, home of the deliciously random "Have Your Say" vitriol columns, where people with too much time and spare and unrelated opinions can persuade themselves that they matter. Hundreds of comments on a story that in itself was a report of a piece of research that reached inflammatory conclusions - possibly because they were the conclusions that it set out to reach. Yes, this country may have gone to the dogs, Have Your Say readers. However, by yapping away and thinking you matter, you are not part of any solution. Don't think that you are.
You do not represent the "moral majority". Yes, other people on the talkback agree with you - because the majority who disagree with you really don't think you're worth talking back to. You are a tiny yapping puppy in a big bucket full of them.
It's ironic that I am ranting about ranting, I know. I'm aware that by posting this online, I am in some ways just as bad as the "ban everything" brigade that annoy me so much. I know all that. But I'm not expecting anyone to read this. This is just for me, just for myself. Tell me how much you agree with me in the comments.
To close, though, a word from one of the wisest people I ever knew.
The right to freedom of speech does not include the right to be taken seriously.