Scoot Blog: Freedom of Speech: the Misunderstood Freedom!
Every 4th of July we should think about our freedoms and all of the things that make America a nation to be admired. But this 4th of July, I find myself reflecting on how we seem to have lost respect for our most cherished freedom – freedom of speech.
The hateful tone that has invaded political debate suggests that many Americans no longer have a true understanding of our freedom of speech. I hear from callers and I read in texts and emails, a vengeful attitude towards those with opposing opinions. There may be times when I have been so passionate about my point-of-view that I appeared to be less respectful of those with a differing opinion, but on “The Scoot Show,” my agenda is not to a political group – it is only to what I honestly believe.
When those few listeners who so vehemently disagree with my opinion on hot-button issues, like same-sex marriage or the trial of George Zimmerman, suggest I should not be on the air because of my opinion, I realize that some Americans do not understand our right to free speech. The First Amendment guarantees our right to ‘freedom’ of speech – not the freedom to say only what you agree with. The very idea that a talk show host should not be on the air because of certain opinions expressed is the attitude of an individual who is not patriotic. Yet, many of those who want to suppress the speech they disagree with would proclaim themselves to be the ultimate patriots – wrong!
America was built on the right to have certain freedoms and with the freedom to express ideas comes the freedom to say things that not everyone agrees with and that is something that should be celebrated.
Many Americans do not have an open mind when it comes to freedom of speech and they are more interested in selecting a news source or a talk show that fits into their political ideological thinking than they are in considering both sides of an issue. This leads to an epidemic of political hypocrisy.
For years I have heard criticism of the ‘liberal media’ that borders of grave fear that Americans are being controlled by puppet masters that have strings attached to every aspect of the media. I have been on talk radio in New Orleans and in many great cities around this country and I have worked in a TV newsroom, where I expressed my opinions in many feature stories, but I have never, never been told what opinion I should have by anyone who was linked to top management. The fear that the media are trying to control America is an irrational fear with no foundation other than ridiculous rumors now spread like a disease on the Internet and in mass emails.
Today, the idea of a controlling ‘liberal media’ has been countered with national and local radio talk show hosts and the FOX News Channel that are dedicated to the ideology of the ‘right.’ There is bias in the media and, though more pronounced today, it has always been part of the equation when humans collect facts and tell a story.
This 4th of July, as you think about the great freedoms we have in America, search your soul and ask yourself if you really understand what freedom of speech means. It gives everyone the right to express an opinion that you may not always disagree with and the contempt many seem to have for those who express strong opposing views defies what it means to truly be an American.
Happy Birthday, America!