Newsline , Society

It’s a Free Country, Isn’t It?

Posted on Wednesday, February 24, 2021
by Diana Erbio

Years ago, on playgrounds and neighborhood streets, kids could be heard shouting in retaliation to harsh words, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!” or if something one said was disapproved of by others, this common phrase would be shouted in defense, “It’s a free country, isn’t it?”

What has happened to free speech in America? One of America’s basic strengths was that people with different opinions could voice them. Today it seems only certain speech is acceptable. Some words can be spoken by some, while those same words may not be spoken by others.

These days we are expected to measure each word we utter carefully. If we offend someone, even if it is not intentional, there will be repercussions.

Dr. Ben Carson addressed this dangerous trend at a Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC a few years ago. Dr. Carson warned, “We’ve reached a point where people are afraid to talk about what they want to say because somebody might be offended.” I believe in the years since; things have gotten worse.

If people are afraid to voice their concerns or their ideology because they will be shouted down as many routinely are when they try to speak on college campuses across the country, our nation will suffer. America has achieved its greatness because we have been a true open society that allows many voices the chance to be heard, not the phony open society of the progressives, which only wants to hear the echo of their own voices.

Whatever happened to the idea that one person might vehemently disagree with another person, but both would fight to the death for each person’s right to speak? It seems that if progressives disagree with other points of view, they choose to demean the speaker rather than engage in the dialogue they often say they wish for.

In her book “Outnumbered: Chronicles of a Manhattan Conservative,” Jedediah Bila wrote about often being shut down when trying to express her opinions by many of the progressives she encountered in New York City. One exception I found heartening was when she tells of a tall stranger with a jet black mohawk who came to her defense when she was being shouted down by “friends” at a Starbucks. “Grow up, already,” he told them. “The girl has a different opinion. So what?” The stranger later told Jedediah he was a lefty liberal from Wyoming who loves that she has her own opinion.

That is what we need more of in America. We have to get back to the idea that although we might not like what others say, we must respect their right to say it. Free speech must be allowed to flow. It’s a free country, isn’t it?

Diana Erbio is a freelance writer and author of “Coming to America: A Girl Struggles to Find her Way in a New World.” Read her blog series “Statues: The People They Salute” and visit the Facebook Page.

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3 years ago

I don’t know how many times we need to do this, but: The First Amendment says that the government cannot arrest or imprison you for what you say. That’s it.

I’ve had comments deleted from this site, so is that a violation of my First Amendment rights or just a private company exercising its own First Amendment rights to decide whether or not to publish me?

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