Friday, July 24, 2009

Today's Thoughts on 'Free Speech"

This morning while looking over a blog I follow, I noticed a response that was really an attack. As I read the response, I couldn't help but think that this person's opinion was a personal attack hidden behind the agenda of inhibiting "free speech". I was bewildered.

Free speech is a right in our country, as it is garuanteed in our Bill of Rights. It holds government accountable through investigative reporting in our news agencies. Those countries that do not allow freedom of speech (opinion) and propagate an agenda through the media are not free societies! We must stand for "free speech".

One aspect of "free speech" that has been questioned is: what constitutes discourtesy, "slander", and undermines our civil discourse? Much has been written and discussed about the issue. But, without full disclosure of information, the public is limited in their ability to judge, discriminate and assess what they believe. This is tragic, as it leaves those in power not just unaccountable, but enlarges their power base. Those who hold the reigns of leadership understand the power of the media, rhetoric, and "image".

While "image" and rhetoric can appeal to the public on a broad base and give a "good feeling" about our leaders, "image", "power", and "rhetoric" are not what leadership is about. Leadership is an ability to see the future with hope, not just for self-interest, but for the public's welfare. And good leaders know how to inspire, encourage, and equip those around them to be "all they can be", as well as listen and learn from others, themselves. Many leaders do not have the ability to listen, to learn, to grow, through learning about who or what they want to change. This is a tragedy, not just for the particular leader, but also for the leader's impact and outcomes.

This morning's encounter with another's dispute over "free speech" got me thinking about how much I embrace forthrightness, frankness, honesty, and courage to speak as one sees it. This is why I like to read and hear from the atheists or agnostic, as they arent' afraid of 'hurting others" so much as trying to grapple with the questions, and give answers about the world.

Those who adhere to learning in all areas are those that will be more likely open to hear another. It is only those whose eyes are focused on some "god-given" knowledge that supercedes any other knowledge that are dangerous, because they will not listen or learn from other arenas.

The West fights not just to preserve our right to free speech, which is enough, but our way of life, where each individual has an opportunity to explore, enlarge and grow in any direction, within the boundaries of law. I hope that we do not give up that right due to a tepid commitment to our government's values. This is why our conuntry is divided today. Those who are not tepid are passionate about protecting our values of freedom and individuality, but we disagree about how to go about it. We see the "enemy" differently. Some of us see the human enemy, whereas, others see the "ideology" that must be fought. We are in a culture war, at home and abroad. We must resolve our differences in pritotizing the value of freedom, so that we can maintain and uphold justice, otherwise, we doom all of us to be under the dominion of unjust men in the name of "god". And injustice will prevail upon the individual, as well as society.

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