A few reflections of the nature of our Free Speech Rights.
Free Speech is a uniquely American Right and compared to most places, more widely supported-and litigated-here than anywhere.
However, your free speech must be defensible. That means claiming the pride, and responsibility, of your speech; whether written in letters, call-ins on talk shows, or standup’s at Town Hall meetings, through acknowledging ownership, public and declared; in other words sign your real name. I haven’t written anything for a long time I haven’t put my name on, and except for one site that I can’t get to change, have dropped screen names, or added my own name in a new version.
Why? Because after reading a million Anonymous Comments, some scurrilous and defamatory, claiming or supporting made-up facts, and claiming pride of authorship only in their anonymity, I realized, for myself, that my personal commitment to openness required that I sign my name, and acknowledge my authorship. I am willing to debate and defend against anyone regarding my Speech, and whatever opinions, and whatever facts used to support my opinions and articles. The truth has a way of surfacing through debate; not always, but recognizing truth requires effort.
I still feel this way. In my opinion: “For speech to have value it must be heard. Claim your speech publicly, defend it righteously, and do so often, and rigorously.”
“The discourse of informed and rational Public Opinion is the forging process from which the American Will is created. The molding of policy through emotion is the antithesis of our Founder’s considered efforts, leading not to the great prize of Justice, but to ill-advised adventures.” My reality is that I haven’t arrived at my opinions accidentally, or by circumstance, although they are shaped by my experiences and observations, not education. My opinions are most often supported by research and facts, by informed consideration of information and with a preponderance of effort towards free market solutions. In our glorious American culture, Free Speech is and should be the embodiment of the principles of a free society. This means that if you don’t agree with Government and legislators, speak out. Write, call, email, stand on a street corner with a poster, attend town hall meetings; do whatever it takes to make your opinion and feelings known to those elected, and unelected, regarding things that are wrong, not just for you personally, but for your neighbors, your community. One of your biggest Free Speech rights? Your Vote. Only those who don’t have it can really reflect on how precious it is. That’s why Americans go to such great effort to make sure voting is free and fair. When we take the time to make an informed and considered vote, reflective of our idealism and dedication to a free society, we create a feeling of inclusion and of important, active participation in our society. We may vote in what we consider our personal best interests, but in so doing the combined voices of the Citizenry is heard. That we are sometimes swayed by rhetoric and emotion is less the fault of the politicians, than our own failure for not being informed enough, committed, enough to a future as a free society, and the wholly American principles of personal reliance and responsibility. I have not missed a vote of any kind, national or local, even in the military, or on business overseas, ever. My Vote is an important part of my Free Speech, as is my willingness to sign my same when I speak or write. You can be proud of your efforts when that is part of your credo.Barry Dennis