Freedom of Speech

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This Sunday morning as I was preparing to attend a worship service, it hit me. So far, in the United States of America we still have freedoms as outlined in our Constitution.

One of those highly valued rights is Freedom of Speech. The right to be free from governmental tyranny to say and/or publish what we will, without fear of intimidation.

Grabbing my cup of coffee, I got ready to read yet another column from one of our local journalists, Larry Riley. The article mentioned a time when he pursued a complaint against a local attorney and he touched on Mark McKinney and the formal complaint filed by Mayor Sharon McShurley. How formal complaints against lawyers have changed several times over the years. Woven within in his words was the message Freedom of Speech.

Here is a quote from the article. “Citizens have every right to publicly air complaints. With a few exceptions (e.g., yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, telling national defense secrets), people can say anything.
Of course, if you’re spreading malicious lies, you can be successfully sued, so nobody has carte blanche. You can be held — and you should be — accountable for what you say.

But you do have freedom of speech. Don’t fear using that freedom.” Star Press March 22, 2009

With the advent of on-line forums, comment sections, letters to the editor, blogs and a vast array of other communication avenues, we are now able to freely express our thoughts and yes, even complaints with little or no restrictions. Does it give a person “carte blanche” to write slander, lies and what some deem as fictional works by vivid imaginations? Guess that depends on your perspective and if you are the originator of said works or on the receiving end.

At a recent election board meeting, Mr. Phil Nichols, was heard to verbally berate a citizen all because he expressed his right to free speech. The young man had written a fairly accurate account of an election board hearing. One that showed no favor towards two of the sitting members on the board.

It didn’t go unnoticed by the Muncie Star Press and was mentioned in an editorial. “election board member Phil Nichols publicly berated Jim Arnold, one of the group’s members, for exercising his right to free speech by writing a guest column in The Star Press describing what happened during that first hearing.” Our View: Election board has no credibility February 6, 2009

For further proof, the video in its entirety is available on the Citizens of Delaware County For Property Tax Repeal’s website. Follow the link in this blog, or click the link under “Interesting Places”.

Should a person or persons choose to exercise their freedom of speech rights there will be some who do not like the message. I find that more than acceptable and it should generate healthy dialog.

It is those who feel that you should be silenced at all costs and will do everything possible to destroy your reputation or even worse. Then it becomes a viable threat to one of the greatest rights and privileges afforded to an American citizen.

Take care in guarding this right. Someday it may just be a blip in a history book and even those who work so hard to silence voices may find even they have lost their right to speak.

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