The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Glenn Mollette

The freedom to speak freely can carry a high price for many

Guest Commentary


Have we lost free speech in America?

Our First Amendment right for all Americans is free speech. Protesters, journalists, civil-rights advocates, street preachers, and all Americans have enjoyed the right of free speech.

Free speech gets on our nerves if the language doesn’t fit our philosophy, religious teachings, traditions, or political views.

Free speech can inspire, encourage, help, teach, and motivate but it can also tear down, torch, blaspheme, and incite people to anger. Words can bless and words can burn. It only takes a spark to get a fire going. The tongue is a powerful weapon and should be used with caution. While we are guaranteed free speech, we understand that our speech will likely generate or provoke responses that will either be kind, hostile, or apathetic.

I don’t think we have as much free speech as we like to say we do. Yes, we are free to say something but then in turn we may have the wrath of the media or a large portion of the nation ready to ship us off the planet.

If a television personality, political figure, or financial giant writes or says something that is distasteful, they might well lose a job, an election, contracts, endorsements, and much more. So while they had the freedom to speak, the cost could be career breaking. Therefore, speech is not always so free.

I get tired of hearing political ads and TV people rant and tear good people down. How do they get by with that? Maybe they are the ones who are guaranteed free speech. There are a lot of motivational speakers making the circuit today, including sales people, preachers, and vitamin and cosmetic pushers. Many of these people use the first amendment to lie to people. I guess the first amendment works well for them.

I once asked a young mother if she would take her crying baby to the nursery at church. I had the freedom to say it, but it irritated some people that I said that. Others agreed with me.

I don’t think people should say things that are nasty, hateful, or racist. However, in America we have the right to express ourselves. And people have the freedom to react to what is said. Reactions may be positive or brutal.

We are people with all kinds of backgrounds, traditions, and religious or non-religious beliefs. We are free-thinking people filled with failures and shortcomings.

We must do everything to maintain free and open speech in this country regardless of whether or not we like the speech. I don’t want to hear filth on the radio or TV. We don’t want our children listening to or watching it. I would be in favor of eliminating a lot of programs that I do not find appropriate.

But I know America is not all about me. I can still say what I do or do not like. I can say things others may not like. I can work hard, write, talk, politic, vote, campaign, verbalize prayers, make phone calls, and pontificate my opinions just like the next American. And people have the freedom to disagree and rebut.

Please let’s keep it that way, and keep it civil, for all of us.


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