Probably more of a hot-bed discussion than most subjects as we approach the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on these United States is free speech. That First Amendment of the Constitution states simply:
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.
Abridging simply means to curtail or hinder. Nothing more. You have the legal right given to you as a U.S. citizen to speak your mind, say your peace, and voice your opinion! Look around you and that is probably the majority of what is on television and radio. The internet is abuzz with free speech partakers. No matter the topic, no matter the event, no matter the person…..everything will generate opinions and those opinions can be expressed freely and without fear of persecution from our government.
With the many positives of this freedom, there are also many negatives. History shows us that words can be hurtful, degrading, and extremely destructive. Words, like the bullet fired from a gun, cannot be recalled. Once that free speech is launched to its audience, it is out there. In this day and age of modern technology, our speech can be launched around the world to an ever-increasing audience in a matter of seconds. Social networks, news outlets, blogs, and email are utilized by so many and gives users the capability to voice thoughts to whoever wants to listen. The part many tend to forget is that your words are out there and it is now permanent record. The Greek sage Publius said “I have often regretted my speech, but never my silence”.
I opened this blog with the fact that free speech can be a touchy area. In light of the upcoming 10 year anniversary of 9/11, we not only look back to that day’s events and how it affected us, but also to revisit the stories and opinions regarding the tragedy. Over the last 10 years, free speech has been a key element. From the positive stories of heroes to the criticism of government. Everyone has voiced themselves in one way or another. But, are we building up or tearing down this country with our free speech?
One particular aspect of this all has been blame. People are always looking for the scapegoat to point the finger at and ease our minds. Usually when tragedy takes place, the leader is the first to be accused. Whether it is a city, a state, or a country, the leader of that demographic is first to be on the guilty list. What amazes me the most is that people have such a creative energy and drive as to bend and twist the obvious and the facts into such a way as to make it look like the leader, themselves, are soley alone in the evil deed! Really? Are we so desperate to attach a name to the disaster that we go beyond reason?
Let’s face some facts, shall we? When a natural disaster, such as Katrina, hits a city that is built in a low-lying ‘bowl’ next to a large body of water, what do you think is going to happen? You can build all the dikes and levies you want, but the water is gonna come in! Duh! When the earth shakes and cracks structures like nuclear power plants and the radiation leaks, is it really some sitting politicians fault for that? Common Sense, help me out here!
Settle down, folks. There’s an old saying that says stuff happens (edited). If you leave your windows or doors unlocked and some thug comes in and steals from you….then there’s a place for blame. Blame on you for leaving things unsecured and blame on them for being scum! But, truthfully, just as stuff happens, so does scum happen. Crimes occur even when we have ourselves in our most vigilant state. Internet users still get hacked even with some of the best security afforded. People still get robbed in broad daylight,even with our caution on high alert, and 9/11 still happened….even with some of the signs and symptoms that existed. Sometimes, there really is only so much that can be done.
Hindsight is always 20/20. We can always look back and declare that we should have seen that coming, and many still do to this day. Every journalist, politician, analyst, specialist, and average citizen have all utilized their free speech with opinion and blame. But let me say right here, right now, that there isn’t any one person to blame. We cannot blame a president. We cannot blame a mayor. We cannot blame an agency. We simply have to stop with the blame game all together. Free speech your opinions all you want, but before you grab hold of your first amendment right and shake a finger or two somewhere, try plugging in that key, missing element called common sense! Take a look at reality and reason!
Remember back when your mother (or somebody’s mother) used to say “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. Do you see where I’m going with this? I really hope so, because I don’t think I can make it any more obvious! We are a county of innocent until proven guilty and I’m pretty sure that we don’t need to play judge, jury, and hangman during times of unrest. Amazing how people really have this propensity to be the first to cast stones, blame others, and accuse anyone. Well, blame on all of you who do that!
We have freedom within this country to utilize the most powerful weapons around the world: Words! Crimes will be addressed, and scum will be held accountable, but the rest could really use some good words of encouragement. Folks really need to hear some harmonies of language that warms. Even a little bit of free speech as simple as “I love you”, “you’re awesome”, and “have a wonderful day my friend” can be so powerful! You don’t have to be a walking Hallmark card, but can certainly appreciate how great some positive free speech feels when directed to you from the heart.
Words are powerful, let’s use that power in a positive way! The late, great musician, Jimi Hendrix, once said “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” Simple. That’s free speech.