Speech not so free in America Have we lost It?
By Glenn Mollette
Our First Amendment right for all Americans is free speech. Protesters, journalists Civil-rights advocates, street preachers and all Americans have enjoyed the right of free speech. Free speech gets on our nerves if the language doesn’t fit our philosophy, religious teachings, traditions or political views. Free speech can inspire, encourage, help, teach and motivate but it can also tear down, torch, blaspheme and incite people to anger. Words can bless and words can burn. It only takes a spark to get a fire going. The tongue is a powerful weapon and should be used with caution. While we are guaranteed Free speech we understand that our speech will likely generate or provoke responses that will either be kind, hostile or apathetic.
I don’t think we have as much free speech as we like to say we do. Yes, we are free to say something but then in turn we may have the wrath of the media or a large portion of the nation ready to ship us off the planet. On more than one occasion an editor or publisher has disagreed with something I have written in this column. The response is often not to publish the column or occasionally I am deleted from ever publishing with the media source again. Therefore I am penalized because I didn’t say it in quite the right way.
If a television personality, political figure or financial giant writes or says something that is distasteful, they are likely to lose a job, an election, contracts, endorsements and much more. Therefore while they had the freedom to utter a sentence the cost could be career breaking. Therefore, speech is not so free.
I get tired of hearing political ads and TV people rant and tear good people down. How do they get by with that? Maybe they are the ones who are guaranteed free speech. There are a lot of motivational speakers making the circuit today including sales people, preachers, vitamin and cosmetic pushers. Many of these people use the first amendment to lie to people. I guess the first amendment works well for them.
I once asked a young mother if she would take her crying baby to the nursery at church. I had the freedom to say it but it irritated some people that I said that. Others agreed with me.
I don’t think people should say things that are nasty, hateful or racist. However, in America we have the right to express ourselves. However, people have the freedom to react to what is said. Reactions may be positive or brutal.
We are not a robot country that runs on daily-programmed autopilot. We are people with all kinds of backgrounds, traditions and religious or non-religious beliefs. We are free thinking people filled with failures and shortcomings.
We must do everything to maintain free and open speech in this country regardless of whether or not we like the speech. I don’t want to hear filth on the radio or TV. We don’t want our children listening to or watching it. I would be in favor of eliminating a lot of programs that I do not find appropriate.
However, I know America is not all about me. I can still say what I do or do not like. I can say things others may not like. I can work hard, write, talk, politic, vote, campaign, verbalize prayers, make phone calls and pontificate my opinions just like the next American. And, people have the freedom to disagree and rebut.
Please let’s keep it that way, and keep it civil, for all of us.
Glenn Mollette is an American columnist and author.