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posted by JP Crisan in Politics

Free Speech and Responsibility

May 23, 2012

...This post is the summary of my recent blog at Online Athens.

The issues of free speech that have played out in this blog and in its comments are some of the most important issues that Americans face, and they are at the center of what makes this nation what it is. Without free speech, nothing else in this country would work, and we would all be reduced to fear, suspicion, uncertainty, and injustice.

Freedom is a privilege that can only exist with responsibility. We are free to drive, but if we drive like maniacs, our privilege of driving is taken away. The freedoms that we have lost, and there are many, have been lost because we have shown that we cannot be trusted to act responsibly. What is so very frustrating is that it is often only a few of us who have acted recklessly that have compelled our government and private companies to take our freedoms away. We are not allowed to walk down the street wearing a mask, because bank robbers and Klansmen have hidden behind masks to commit crimes. We are all required to carry identification cards or papers for who knows what reason. With every wrong we do, the noose gets tighter to choke off more and more of our freedoms.

We cannot look to our government for freedom, because our freedoms reside in each and every one of us in what we do with our lives. We must all uphold our responsibilities in unison. If the misdeeds of one of us threaten the rights of all of us, then it is each our responsibility to guide one another away from what may endanger us all. In this way, freedom is not free. We are bound to freedom by mutual responsibility and active engagement.

Those in the publishing industry know that, one by one, news websites are curtailing, censoring, or removing altogether the ability of the public to make comments. It has already happened here at Online Athens’ Spotted because of the lewd comments about women.

In the United States, hate speech is legal, except for obscenity, defamation, incitement to riot, and fighting words. Well, I have certainly seen obscenity and defamation here. A few people have been driving their mouths recklessly, and these people may well lead to all of our mouths being taped shut. So if you lose your freedom, don't come crying to me, because I will only tell you that I told you so.

This is why my pen issues its fusillade of fire, fury, and humor, because these are my freedoms as a writer that some of you are threatening to take away. So, be afraid, be afraid NOT to read my blogs!

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