Friday, December 20, 2013

THE SACRED RIGHT OF FREE SPEECH by Teresa Beem

Freedom of Speech; we all want to use it all the time. We all want to express ourselves and be heard. But what does freedom of speech really mean? Is it just a right to publicly express oneself? Or is there something  more important than getting to publicly hear one's own voice? Why is this freedom to speak so sacred to us?


Let’s examine the following type of conversation:
A: “Sarah Palin is an idiot and a hater and a bigot.”  
B: “That is a horrible slanderous thing to say. You should not say such things.” 
A: “I have the right to freedom of speech and can say anything I wish to.” 
Insert any conversation you wish where the end is one person replying, “It’s America and I have the right to say what I want.”


Technically person A is correct in that in America, we have the right of freedom of speech. But notice the defensiveness. Person A feels if someone is arguing with them or tells them they shouldn’t say the things they are saying, then their free speech is being impeded. 

Person A has a wrong premise of freedom of speech. He or she is assuming that the freedom to publicly express oneself is given so that the world can know their opinion--as if their opinion has some democratic or equal rights. And if someone then argues with their opinion, it is somehow suppressing their opinion's sacred rights. 

Wrong. 

Person B has the exact same right of speech to disagree. There is nothing in Person’s B’s statement that was attempting to take away Person A’s right to free speech. They were merely saying that person A shouldn't express a flippant or wrong opinion that could distort or falsify the facts. Person B was using his rights also to attempt to get to the truth of something.

Americans have a right to publicly disagree and tell others their opinion is stupid. Opinions aren’t sacred. Personal views have no sacred rights. 


Let me explain by going back. America’s founding fathers understood that governments could suppress truth. They had the power to control and disseminate wrong information to control the populace. This totalitarian power over information brought terrible injustice. Imagine a courtroom not allowing a witness to speak or the accused not allowed to defend themselves. For justice to occur everyone with pertinent information needed to be able to share it. Hence, the sacred right of free speech. 

The point of free speech being sacred is that the truth can be known--so that the truth couldn’t be deliberately suppressed by powerful forces. Free speech isn’t so that everyone has an equal opportunity to be creative and express themselves. They can be heard, but they can be argued with in order for the truth to get out!

Freedom of speech is sacred because truth is sacred. 


Some in the United States tend to become defensive because they assume their opinion, or expressing their opinions, is sacred. That is what is behind the conversation above. That defensive reply, “I have the right to speak” shows an ignorance of what their right means. It shows a lack of understanding of the point of free speech. We protect your words so that we can get to the truth, not because we think your words have some innate value or are sacrosanct. They are valuable if they further us along in getting to truth. 


If you wish to exercise your freedom of speech, please do so, but keep in mind that your self-expression has no rights and is valueless and needs to be disagreed with if it doesn’t shed more light on something or lead to truth. In America truth is sacred, not opinions. 

4 comments:

Marcos Torres said...

What are your thoughts on the whole Duck Dynasty thing?

Teresa Beem said...

Well… since you asked…

I cannot IMAGINE Christians wanting this vulgar tongued man to be their spokesman. What a horrific (even if comical) way of defending heterosexuality! The beautiful act, given to us by God as a miracle to create humans in our own image, to bond us and make us one… to be reduced to body parts… shameful.

He and his family do very little for the gospel. They seem more like a nicer, red-necked version of Arrested Development. (Which as vulgar as that show is, it is far funnier.) I know that is not what you are asking about but the politics of it.

Well, Phil Robertson has a right to free speech. A & E have a right to fire anyone they wish for any reason they wish. And we have a right to say we don't like it and boycott the show. Free rights of speech for everyone. I think it is so dumb for those who dislike Robertson to stand all offensive and demand we respect A & E's rights to fire or suspend him. Fine. But we also have a right to no longer watch the show and cause A & E to tank and lose millions of dollars. That's America. The media frequently pretends they are the victims. It is ridiculous.

I would have fired Phil Robertson not because of his position but the WAY, the offensive WAY he spoke. We have become a gutter of foul language on television as well as explicit pictures.

I do think it is reprehensible that the conservative side is always told WE must show tolerance of every wicked and despicable thing the liberals want to throw at us. We must be tolerant of Miley Cyrus and Madonna and a crucifix in urine, but the liberal side shows zero tolerance for those they disagree with and call bigoted and homophobic and try to bully them into silence. For that reason alone I am glad the Duck Dynasty is sticking together and will not give in to such bullying.

Some of the Robertsons believe that this whole thing was a deliberate set up with GQ doing just what A & E wanted… to find a reason to silence the grandfather so they could go on making fun of backwood Christians without losing money. (The show had become too religious it seems for A & E). I am inclined to think that is true because it is impossible for me to believe that A & E didn't know Phil's beliefs and that didn't know that GQ would ask those types of questions. It all smacks of a set up and they didn't really believe the Robersons would stick together. They thought they could get Phil to apologize, because that is what all snively, weak-kneed, cowardly people do whose love for money and acceptance are greater than their love for God. The smack-down reversed on them. (Unless the Robertsons are really actors and they were in on it too--to stir up the money machine at Wal-Mart… which I wouldn't put past anyone in Hollywood.)

In the end, all this is about the war between good and evil. It looks at the moment, that God is using some pretty rough men to stand up for what is right, but hey…. I don't see anyone ELSE doing it!! Certainly not most Catholic priests or Protestant pastors. God uses the willing and perhaps the Robertsons were the only one's willing…. then, if that is so…. good for them.


Marcos Torres said...

Wow! Excellent rant! lol. Glad I asked. I have never watched the show nor did I see the interview with Phil but I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. I think I do tend to see it a whole lot like you do though, except for the deliberate A&E thing. I sure don't put it past them but I never thought of it along those lines.

Give it a few weeks and the world will have forgotten it just like they seem to have forgotten the whole Chick Fil' A thing, lol.

Arik said...

Paul says in the last days, in the church, there would be a form of godliness. Jesus said there would be those that honor Him with their mouths, but their hearts are far from Him. That is how I characterize Phil Robertson. His "defending heterosexuality" was so vulgar, how can we link that with the Gospel? How can we believe that the fruit of the Spirit, fruit that Jesus says we will know them by, be thought of as "God using the willing?" Robertson was not defending heterosexuality or the sanctity of marriage, he was simply slamming homosexuality, here is a big difference.

There is a bigger picture here, Cristians have largely failed to uphold the sanctity of marriage, leaving the door wide open for others to view marriage as nothing more than a technicallity for recognition of certain benefits gained from the institution (health insurance, adoption, tax breaks etc..). It is the Christian world that is largely at fault for gay marriage being promoted, not liberals.

Looking at this situation through the lens of the great controversy theme, a theme some SDA's have largely abandoned,I could say it is Satan playing both sides. What if it is his great plan to bring out into the open every abomination, (not just homosexuality) so this form of godliness religion can unite and bring about a "Christian nation"? What if it is his scheme to push the pendulum so far left that "Christians" will push it too far right, afer all Revelation does say that the two horned beast will cause all the world to worship the beast. That two horned beast, that spoke like a lamb, becomes "religious" and speeks like a dragon, and leads the world ino a form of godliness.