Thursday, August 30, 2012

On Freedom of Speech and the Instruments of Justice

If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.
    -George Washington

Our power to speak and express ourselves is what separates us from the animal kingdom.  Before agriculture, prior to technology, and even earlier than the written word it was speech that allowed us to communicate ideas about ourselves and the type of community we would like to form.  

The freedom to speak our minds - and listen to others who do the same - is the first and last line of defense for a nation of free people.  It is the sole force capable of regulating the conduct of public officials who are torn between their duties -to those they swore to represent- and their personal ambitions -such as their quest for career, power, fame, or wealth.

Yet our words are not only a defensive shield against the injustice that stems from the abuse of power.  They are the carpenters’ tools which fashion raw materials into ever more beautiful and inspiring forms -- forms built upon the strength and stability of an idea spoken sincerely and in good faith. 

Words are the vehicles of manifestation for our ideas and - just as an architect's blueprints exist as a potential but in themselves are not actualized - it shall always be the many, the builders, acting upon these plans and laboring together who bring about this reality so that it may last; applying the instruments of their craft so that future generations may see what is possible when principle and effort are made real. 

We are the builders, and our freedom of expression is the tool with which we create the society we are meant to have. 

It is unfortunate and unavoidable that occasionally individuals in positions of power, acting with the aid or under the influence of special interests, seek to actively extinguish the living ideals of a free press and a public with free speech.  This behavior is not difficult to understand once we accept that such individuals believe that 'their' message --and only their message-- is worthy of dominance over all others; that 'their' plan is superior to all others.

Yet, just as a free marketplace thrives on the competition of ideas and operates without a centralized command, so, too must the will of our nation come from all of us, from every voice, and never a centralized power figure, or corporate entity. 

In the end, for speech to protect us, we must protect it… first and foremost and above all other rights and privileges.  Our future -- should we succeed in defending this most precious gift -- is almost certain to be brighter from generation to generation. 

It is a world equipped with an ever more perfect instrument of justice.  

And justice is the highest form of beauty.  

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