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HEAR ABOUTS: Freedom of speech ain’t what it used to be

Posted on Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 10:00 am

Whatever happened to real freedom of speech?

Maybe even more disturbing to me is whatever happened to freedom of expression, whether you are making a point about politics, religion or any other topic?

I saw recently where a grammar school graduation for sixth graders was canceled after one parent protested because the graduation ceremony would include a prayer.

At one time in this country, if a person didn’t agree with some part of a ceremony or other activity, they simply didn’t take part in that activity. It used to be that by refusing to take part in something you didn’t personally agree with, your refusal to do so would serve as a statement.

Back before America lost its collective heart and soul, that one parent would have refused to allow their child to take part in that little sixth grade graduation ceremony, rather than demand that the school board punish every other kid.

Apparently majority rule is suffering its death throes in the United States along with our rapidly declining morality and sense of right and wrong.

These days the only way an individual seems to try to make a statement is by hiring a lawyer and threatening a lawsuit if he or she doesn’t get their way about something. Sadly, way too many of our elected officials lack the backbone to stand up to such legal blackmail.

Such was the case in Texas recently, even though one judge did defend the right to free speech that one such group of whiners tried to squelch.

A high school cheerleading squad in Kountze, Texas decided to display terms on their big paper run-through banners that were uplifting. So rather than “Kill the Wildcats” or “Smash the Bears” they opted for sayings with an uplifting message such as, “Who can defeat you if God is with you?”

The home team, its fans and even the opponents and their fans really liked the idea, and applauded it.

Of course, this did not sit well with a professional protest group called the Freedom From Religion Foundation based in far off Wisconsin. They threatened a lawsuit if the local school board didn’t cease and desist the “offensive” practices of these young women.

The school board — true to the ever-growing trend by government bodies to pander to loud-mouthed bullies — began a campaign of harassment against the cheerleaders, ordering them to destroy their signs and thrusting them into tearful confrontations with litigators.

Thankfully there was another legal organization, the Liberty Institute, who filed an injunction against the school board, claiming the board was denying the students their constitutional right of religious expression, and finally a Texas judge agreed.

It’s amazing what can be accomplished when someone decides to stand up to a bully, just like our parents used to tell us to do.

The freedoms of speech and the freedom of religious expression have historically been our most cherished rights in this country. But over the past few decades, these basic rights and privileges have been slowly taken away thanks to a growing infatuation with the rights of the individual over the rest of us.

It has gotten to the point that people are afraid to state their honest opinion simply because somebody who disagrees with it will be “offended.”

Being offended every now and then is a strong indicator that free speech is alive and well in a society. It is okay to disagree with one’s point of view. Rather than whining and sniveling that somebody’s differing opinion “offends” you, offer a better argument for your own beliefs.

In other words, be a grown up.

Sadly, it looks to me like we’ve just about given up our freedom of speech and expression to the do-it-my-way-or-be-sued intimidators.

I’m proud to say that pre-game prayers are still being said at our local high school games, but I’m sure some individual whiner will lawyer up at some point in the future.

When they do, I hope our local government will just smile and say, “See ya in court!”

 

—By PHIL GATTO