What happens to a society that is allowed free expression? Over 250-years ago, a few brave men were willing to give their “last full measure of devotion” to find out. Over two centuries of free speech in America has demonstrated the following about what those men called “an inalienable right.”
First of all, free speech accelerates the discovery of truth. A few centuries ago, many of the “smart people” claimed the potato caused leprosy, syphilis, early death, sterility, and more. So, in 1748 the French parliament banned the eating of potatoes. Do you suppose some government health official declared, “Don’t ask questions, do what we tell you: Don’t eat potatoes!” It took a while, but eventually, enough people questioned the authority of the experts and proved the potato a safe food. Down through the ages, open debate has debunked many myths and facilitated the discovery of many truths.
Second, free speech elevates the significance of the individual over the collective. It allows dissidents to express their opinions even though their words or writings may make group members or government leaders uncomfortable. Uninhibited speech means both the majority and the autocrat must respect the individual with differing beliefs and opinions.
Third, free speech preserves our Constitutional form of government. In America, for over 200 years, we’ve been allowed to criticize our government. This freedom was demonstrated with great vigor during Donald Trump’s presidency. For four years, the news media colluded with the Democrat party and Big Tech to smear, shame, and insult him even beyond his presidency. Free speech has been used to challenge the status quo: Free speech empowered the anti-slavery movement, forced an end to the Viet Nam war, and was the tool most effectively used to inspire the Civil Rights Movement.
But today, the merit and immutability of this “divinely given” right are being tested: Many posit that truth is only opinion, that the collective is more important than the individual, and the Constitution is malleable and intellectually and morally repugnant.
Global powers in the early 21st Century are implementing various ways that severely limit or shut down free expression. A good friend in Texas gets sent into Facebook jail whenever Facebook censors don’t like his posts. Teachers and professors get fired for teaching the intellectual discipline of critical thinking. Then there’s the insidious and pervasive censorship of language by the malicious WOKE movement.
A new threat to free speech now faces those who attend high school or university. Narrow-minded educators, radicalized school boards, and high-volume cancel culture activists want to silence colleagues and muzzle students and parents who question their despotic left-wing agenda. They don’t want to debate – they want to indoctrinate.
The way towards greater freedom and economic, scientific, and social progress is an open marketplace of ideas. Not the government, not the schoolteacher, not the college professor, not anyone for any reason can deny or take away your right to free expression.
This valuable and protected right helped make America the most advanced and prosperous civilization in history. Now, you and I must bravely and publicly declare our love of country, our yearning for self-determination, and our commitment to the Constitution. We must not be bullied into silence by pointy-headed intellectuals and brain-washed activists. We have a God-given right to speak up, so don’t let anyone shut you up — and we will keep America beautiful.
PS: A recent posting on Facebook: “If we don’t have free speech we won’t know who the idiots are.”