Free Speech-Right & Responsibility

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    On December fifteenth, 1791, the Bill Of Rights, consisting of 10 amendments, was ratified to the Constitution of the United States of America. The first amendment states; Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. What I want to focus on is freedom of speech, which is guaranteed to all American citizens.
    I believe though, that this right(and responsibility) is misunderstood and very much taken for granted by many Americans.
    Legally one can’t, as the saying goes, yell fire in a crowded theatre(falsely); slander or wrongly accuse someone of a crime. There is some gray area, but I believe most people understand this.
    Free speech is also not about being able to say any ridiculous or offensive thing you want and thinking that there shouldn’t be any backlash from offended persons or group, or consequences, like possibly losing your job.
    I believe there are too many people, both famous and not, on both ends of the political spectrum(and in between) who like the concept of free speech, as long as it’s there ideas that are being espoused. They’re often far too eager to silence opposing voices by most any means.
    Those means include, but aren’t limited to: attempts to marginalize, demonize or shout down opponents instead of intellectually defending their own positions and when all else fails, petition authority or just complain about how unfair they’re being treated.
    Musicians, actors, celebrities, pseudo-celebrities, some politicians, radio and TV talk show hosts who spout their outrageous opinions and act as if they’re experts on any given subject are only trumped by those in the media who treat said opinions as fact – Actress: “You know Lar, there are 2 billion starving children in America and the so and so administration hates each and every one of them!  TV personsonality(who pretends to be a journalist):  Gee Babs, that is appalling! Can’t we all just get along?”
    Americans, all Americans, but especially those with a platform, should act in a responsible manner when exercising their free speech rights and when those rights are abused, should expect a public backlash and not play the blame game.
    The right to vote is a significant form of free speech. To be able to proclaim your allegience to a candidate, walk into a private voting booth, make that or any other choice, including a write-in vote, and walk back out free to speak about it (or not), is the embodiment of free speech in action.  Yet, approximately only 61% of registered and 45% of the eligible Americans vote in any given election. These statistics(loosely taken from the last 20 years) clearly show a lack of appreciation for an important right that many have died defending. It should come as no surprise then that free speech rights have been eroding, with little or no complaint from average citizens.
    Political Correctness (PC), The Patriot Act, Public School Zero Tolerance Policies and the censuring of U.S. history to eliminate Americas’ religious roots, legal system minimum sentencing and so called “Hate” crimes, the “Fairness Doctrine”, college campus nonliberal intolerance and the idea that verbalizing policy disagreements with a previous or present government administration is somehow unpatriotic are all, to varying degrees, assaults on Americans’ rights to express themselves.  Brand new to the list is Homeland Security’s “Watch List”.  Returning war vets, constitutionalists, third party and “one-issue” promoters such as pro-lifers , gun-rights advocates and fiscal conservatives are all considered potential domestic terrorists. I’m sure there are even more instances of free speech intrusions that I haven’t thought of or listed here. My web site, www.wheresmyfree.com/, is dedicated to the idea that for United States citizens’ to remain free, we must take serious the erosion of our rights and fullfill our responsibility to the generations to come to keep this country the greatest the world has seen( no apologies coming from me).

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