Monday, February 11, 2008

On Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are perhaps the two freedoms that safeguard us best from the possibility of a too strong central government. We can express ourselves and we can report openly. Each of us has these freedoms and is entitled to engage in them at will. Despite the views expressed, elected officials are to uphold these freedoms for all as they execute the oath of office they take to uphold the Constitution.

Not having paid for our freedoms, many Americans treat them cheaply. These days our guaranteed freedoms are under attack, as I have never before witnessed. Our president for instance has tried to hamper free speech through manipulation---if you oppose the war, you are unpatriotic. And the price we have paid for that manipulation! This is one of devastating effects of suffocating free speech, trying to thwart others from expressing their views through negative labels, name calling.

Free speech has its limitations…you are not so free as to yell “Fire “ in crowded theatres as a prank, for example, and you are not allowed to make libelous or slanderous statements. These are against the law and of course people can take someone to court over such ugly activities. Libelous and slanderous statements violate moral law also because they are deliberate attempts to malign someone's reputation.

What hides behind this attempt to manipulate people to surrender some of their birthright and relinquish their freedom of speech is the attempt of some people to control others and validate themselves at the expense of tolerance and diversity. Stifling diversity in the name of diversity is hypocrisy.

If one cannot live peaceably and respectfully with divergent views, the words “I am an American”, from the president to the everyday citizen, are without meaning--- have no application.

Stay tuned.

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