Sunday, September 19, 2010

Is Hatred Really Freedom of Speech?

Note: I recently stumbled across this letter to the editor I wrote just over a year ago.  Sadly, it's still all too true. -- John

I agree that freedom of speech is a paramount American liberty. However, at what point does YOUR freedom of speech impinge upon my own freedoms?

We have all come to learn that giving a soap box to those who spew anger and hatred towards others encourages action and, often, violence. You can veil it any way you choose, but promoting hatred towards others seldom leads to promoting freedoms. In fact, it almost always promotes the exact opposite.

When Glen Beck encourages his audience to believe that Obama is a racist and hates white people, it stirs up a deep-seated anger and provides a "cover" beneath which to justify actions which could, otherwise, never be justifiable. Same goes for Bill O'Reilly's anger toward George Tiller. And it is not just Beck or O’Reilly or the hosts at Fox News.

When the people we entrust to conduct the national dialog, use their positions to incite anger and (eventually and unavoidably) violence, we ALL lose our freedoms.

It's one thing to address people's existing fears and concerns.

It is entirely something else to CREATE them.
John Epstein
August 2009