Thursday, November 12, 2009

Free Speech?

I'd like to call your attention to two interesting articles posted at American Thinker today. AT is a conservative website, but I think the two articles should be of interest to anyone, especially those who value free speech in our society.

The first is about Tea Parties. It's called Tea Parties: Misunderstood and Vastly Underrated. The philosopher and I went to the Atlanta rally on November 9 - the first protest rally for both of us. We didn't go because of any social justice issues, but because we're worried about big government, higher taxes, and no longer being represented in Congress. We met a lot of really nice folks: grandmas and grandpas, moms and dads (and their kids), college students and teachers, veterans, folks who work for a living and folks who *want* to work for a living. Basically just your ordinary, everyday Americans. We sang some patriotic songs, we listened to speakers encouraging us to pay attention to what was happening and to make wise, thoughtful decisions when we go to the polls. We're just decent people who are not happy. And we're exercising our free speech right to protest in a calm, peaceful, respectful way. But the way we're represented in the media is appalling. We're called "extremists" and distasteful names. If the progressive folks can gather and protest policies, why can't we?

OK, the second article is called Academic Freedom for Thee But Not for Me. It details a problem that gets press over and over - liberal or progressive speakers on campuses are able to exercise their rights to free speech when invited, but conservative speakers are shut down or shut out.

Regardless of whether you "lean left" or "lean right" - don't you see s disparity here? The right to free speech - peaceful free speech - is a right EVERYONE has, not just those to the left of the political spectrum. Michael Douglas had a great line in the movie The American President:
"America is advanced citizenship... You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing at center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours."
You have to be able to hear *both sides* of any argument - to shut down one side of the debate is to go down a terrible road. It's a frightening thought, and I hope and pray that reason and rationality return to this country. We're a diverse nation, but we should always be able to have discussion and free speech about the issues we care about.

And today, I've exercised mine!

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