Have you ever had one of those days when the words simply will not come? The thoughts are running in every direction, except to those finger tips of yours. And then contemplating writing a blog on Freedom of Speech of all things! Of course you have, except maybe timing the latter with such frustrating precision. Welcome to my Thursday night.
The odd thing is that I have spent the last couple of weeks responding to Failing the First, an article I wrote last month. It is amazing what people do not know about the First Amendment or the five rights granted by it. I call them the Rights of Freedom. In our lack of understanding, our apathy of our own freedom; freedom of speech is more misunderstood perhaps than any of the other five rights.
It was not the Framer's intent to protect what all embraced, but to allow voice of individuality. You see, if we all agreed with everything expressed, speech would not need protection now would it? Therein lies the duality of freedom itself.
I was but a child thumbing through one of my dad's old magazines when I stumbled across a picture that shocked me. It was of a Black cop in riot gear, baton drawn standing in protection of a rallying Klu Klux Klan member. I could only imagine what they were in the process of screaming directly past the ear of a Black cop fully committed to defending their right to express their thoughts openly; even when they were least popular. That is freedom at its best, as demonstrated in its worst.
It is the dichotomy that I love today, although then it was a bit confusing.
"Pop. Why would this cop defend this man?" I asked.
"Because it's his job. You do not get to pick and choose who you do right by. More importantly Paul, you are an American and in America your rights are protected, even when others do not believe in what you are saying or what you stand for." I classic Pop fashion, he handed me an encyclopedia and went through the First Amendment with me. I have been a fan of the U.S. Constitution ever since.
No, not everyone likes what others have to say, but we have the right to say it and express it none the less. Freedom is being offended from time to time. Freedom is best demonstrated when it is least popular and most offensive.
For me, Freedom of Speech is very simple. If you don't want to hear it, don't listen, but respect the Framer's intent in fostering a nation that allows the expression of self. What makes America great is the individuality entrusted to its citizenry. We tend to forget that when we find ourselves offended by the reality that not everyone is like us.