The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
View From The Handlebars 

Is Speech Still Free

 

February 10, 2021

Forrest Hershberger View From The Handlebars

I frequently see the comment of "If God only gives you what you can handle, I must be a superhero," or something like that.

The context of the discussion is worth another platform. But look at it from a slight variation. If all you can do is what you've always done..." If all you can do is what you've always done, you probably won't advance much. There will be no growth, no motivation and your system will likely atrophy on several levels. Muscles are not challenged physically, mentally, emotionally, even spiritually.

We are increasingly in a world that chooses how it wants to be challenged. We surround ourselves with people who think like we do, desire what we desire and do little to disrupt our view of the world. Certain things are wrong if the other person is caught, or even suspected, and disregarded if another person is known to be guilty.

What should be just as disturbing is we have allowed speech to be conditionally free. While the Bill of Rights clearly defines freedom of speech and assembly as inalienable rights, who gets to exercise those rights varies with the day and the group. It concerns me that political correctness, beginning decades ago, has raced to the point a social sin conducted or even suspected in youth is damning in adulthood.

It concerns me that entertainers speech is more free than the president's. It concerns me that in the name of civility, some topics are left quiet when they should be debated.

It is common among many families, especially during holidays, not to address politics and religion, and sometimes a list of other hot topics, when family are gathered.

The underlying message is "Uncle Mike" has a bad temper and won't listen to a different point of view. Keep the peace by keeping quiet. The result is there are people who may never hear a different point of view, or it is treated as an heretical point of view not worth the time.

I have to admit there are times I cautiously go the other direction. There are people I have historically called friends, and co-workers, who we were completely polarized in ideology. They are people who I allowed or otherwise invited into my circle with the intention of learning from the other perspective.

I couldn't guarantee I would change my way of thinking, but I felt, and still do, that it is wise to understand the other view. Sometimes it leads to strengthening your own view, or a course correction.

The concern is political correctness has amped up to the point if a person is suspected of not speaking the "truth," he or she is removed from the public platform. There is a social standard that is somewhere stated and frequently implied stifling contradictory points of view. They are losing their income because revenue streams are cut off as a result of the message they promote.

I often refer to coffee shop discussions because is where people get real. There is no hiding behind a screen, no delete or block button. There is you and the other person with cups or meals between you. The idea is both challenging and utopian in that it opens the door for change, and it means you have to show interest in another person.

However, if you truly want to be more than what you are, it takes testing your boundaries, meeting people who see the world differently.

 

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