Tag Archives: Freedom of speech

Independence Day 2015

Much of historical significance has happened in our country over the past couple of weeks. As I peruse my Facebook and Twitter feeds and watch America’s news networks, a very disturbing picture begins to emerge; a picture of a nation on the brink of collapse.

Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” Matthew 12:25

Social media presents an amazing opportunity to reconnect and renew old friendships. It is also a forum in which we can participate in our national conversation with people from all over the country. Unfortunately, we are squandering that opportunity. All too often, we throw barbs at one another, not seeking understanding or even fruitful discussion, but only seeking to advance our position over those with whom we disagree. It gets so bad, that I sometimes log off of social media for a day or two just to get relief from the insults flying back and forth.

I used to be a fan of Fox News until I got sick and tired of watching panels of so-called experts, presumably gathered together to discuss a topic of interest from their different points of view, reduce themselves to yelling over each other to be heard with the host not allowing those expressing opinions in dissent with his own to complete their thoughts. Other so-called “news” channels are guilty of the same useless banter. It is not at all helpful; instead, it serves to increase the divide that is growing ever larger by the day.

Our nation appears to have lost the ability, maybe even the desire, to have open and honest discussions with one another. I believe that, if this continues, this will be the demise of our great nation. We Americans must stand up, rise above the fray, demand quality reporting by our media, and resist the temptation to cast stones at one another.

The First Amendment to the Constitution preserves our right to speak freely, among other things. What does that mean? I’m no Constitutional lawyer (I’m not a lawyer at all, actually) but based on my understanding of American history and my understanding of the intentions of our founders, I believe there is intent here that we Americans have the freedom to speak our minds. Obviously, given the fact that we are all humans and none of us possess perfect knowledge or wisdom, we are going to disagree from time to time. Can we not, out of respect for our fellow citizens, allow such disagreements to take place without shunning the person with whom we disagree? Do any of us really want to live in a society in which we can lose our jobs for sharing an opinion with which some disagree? Can we not disagree with one another, even on important topics of national interest, without attacking each other personally in an attempt to reduce those on the other side of the issue to the ranks of the stupid and uninformed?

Today we celebrate Independence Day. On July 4, 1776, a nation was founded on the principle that people’s rights are inherently theirs by virtue of their Creator, not granted by government. We were founded on the principle that we are not subjects of our government; rather, our government serves at the will of the people. I’ll bet there were some heated discussions as the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution were developed. Whatever disputes arose were negotiated and worked out, and the American people won. Friends, let us not effectively shred those documents with trite and fruitless banter. Let us not allow those who seek to divide us (they’re out there, and they seek power only for themselves) to succeed. Let us unite as Americans, understanding that each of us has worth in the eyes of God, knowing that at times we will have to agree to disagree, but also understanding that a nation divided against itself will not survive.

I love my country, I feel blessed to be an American, and I know you do, too. Let’s start now to rise above the fray and come together to save this great nation.

Happy Independence Day and God bless America.

On Phil Robertson and Freedom of Speech

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. ~ The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America

We all need to step back and take a long, deep breath. Many who have voiced their opinions concerning A&E Network’s suspension of Phil Robertson for statements made during his recent interview by GQ magazine have staked their position based on a perceived violation of Robertson’s right to “freedom of speech”. While I agree with Robertson’s position, I disagree that his right to freedom of speech was violated. On the contrary, this whole flap is, in a way, “freedom of speech” on full display.

Phil Robertson photo credit: harvest.orgFirst, consider Phil Robertson, who offered an honest, albeit not eloquent, explanation of his view of homosexuality in response to a question posed to him by a reporter for GQ. Phil has the right to his opinion, and he enjoys the constitutionally protected right to express it. He was not arrested, nor has he been charged with a crime. A&E, however, suspended their relationship with Robertson because the network has taken a position contrary to Robertson’s.

Second, consider A&E. In suspending Robertson, A&E said in their public statement, “His (Robertson’s) personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.” In so doing, A&E chose a side. Some, of course, are pleased with their decision while others clearly are not. In any event, A&E’s executives have the legal right to take this action. A&E is not a governmental authority; therefore their suspension of Robertson is not a fundamental impediment to Robertson’s Constitutional right to freely speak his mind.

Finally, consider the People’s response. Some are advocating a boycott of A&E. Others have posted reprimands on A&E’s social media sites. Some have praised the network for standing up for the LGBT community. Boycotts, reprimands and praise are all expressions of opinion; and as far as I know, none of the individuals offering this feedback have been charged with a crime for expressing their views. They are freely expressing their opinion and the government has not intervened.

So, in a nutshell, Robertson expressed his opinion, A&E spoke by their action, and the People are speaking out in response. Constitutional freedom of speech is alive and well in the USA!

The Newseum's Five (5) freedoms guaranteed by ...

The Newseum’s Five (5) freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment ot the US Constitution. 1. Freedom of Religion 2. Freedom of Speech 3. Freedom of the Press 4. Freedom of Assembly Peaceably 5. Freedom to Petition the Governement for Grievances (Opening April 11, 2008) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now it’s my turn. As a Bible-believing Christian, I agree with Robertson’s statements. I would have stated it differently, but I agree with the substance of what he said. I also support A&E’s right to take action; after all, they are a proponent of gay rights and Robertson appears on their network. With that said, A&E’s suspension of Robertson reeks of hypocrisy. I enjoyed several episodes of Duck Dynasty last night – aired on A&E and starring Phil Robertson. While they’ve taken a position, their financial bottom line still rules the day.

A&E’s tagline is “Be Original”.  I’m sure they paid some public relations expert a lot of money to come up with that. I wonder what their meaning is behind those two words? What was it about those two words that struck a chord with A&E’s executive team? You see, no matter what position an individual adopts on homosexuality or any other moral issue, a person’s position is grounded in something. On the issue of homosexuality, Robertson’s position, and mine, is grounded in Scripture; A&E’s is not. Perhaps A&E should modify their tagline to something like this: “Be Original. Unless your Originality differs from ours. In that case, Be Quiet.”

(Phil Robertson photo source: Harvest.org)

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