• Posted: Jun 26, 2008 03:55:55
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Free speech is a marvelous thing, but too often the point of it is lost. The purpose of free speech is not opportunity to air just anything that comes to mind, the purpose is to facilitate free and open public debate. The belief is that free and open debate will allow society as a whole to move forward with the greatest amount of wisdom, wisdom that promotes the greatest good for the greatest number of citizens. It is very hard to see how slanderous remarks appealing to the basest of fears, jealousies, and ignorances accomplish anything constructive in this regard.
Was listening to a personal rant on the radio the other day by a guy named Humphries. Using the rhetoric of whiny slanderous ridicule he attempted to promote his view that taxes and government were not needed and that everything would be fine if people were left to rely on their own devices. That is not a point of view totally lacking in merit or historical significance, but the forum by which his views were being presented did not offer any semblance of opportunity for substantive debate by competing points of view. That he and his listeners seem gleefully content to wallow in their own excrement is a sad comment on the state of common understanding in this country as to the purpose of free speech. Radio stations run by Dobson's American Family Radio Network typically follow a similar format with their programing. There is no substantive debate, there is only all out self-promotion of a single purpose fact-denying ideology. If free speech is taken to be a hallmark of what America is all about, there is little that is truly American in such forums. In fact, they bear a closer resemblance to Fascism. Truth in advertising would suggest an appropriate substitution in the AFR name.
While the issues of states rights and individual rights were hotly debated at the composing of the U.S. Constitution, the debate focused on satisfying those issues within the framework of an overall plan for cooperative effort. They labeled that cooperative effort a "union", a union of free men and women promoting liberty, equality, and justice for all. The point here is that as admirable as Humphries aspiration for self-reliance is, the way to get there is not to poo-poo, belittle, and attempt to subvert and dismantle cooperative government, but to more fully participate in the forum of debate that the free speech tenet in our Bill of Rights establishes. For instance, public education provides opportunity for a common understanding of the free speech forum of debate and the dissemination of information that can not only improve the viability of self-reliant aspirations, but that will also inform an appreciation of the merits and benefits of cooperative efforts. Take a look at the tragedy unfolding in the picture above. Self-reliance may have built that house, but cooperative concerns and efforts are vigorously at work saving the life inside, putting the fire out, and progressing toward helping to heal wounds and rebuild a vision of sustainable self-reliance for the people involved. Disassemble government and cooperative efforts and none of that happens. This family, this individual dies and there is nothing more to be said. Their story is over.
Tuesday, January 29th, 2008
39.4 mm 187 mm