Great power and responsibility
There is no doubt that our country enjoys more freedom than any other in the world. Of all our freedoms, I consider the ones guaranteed in our first amendment closest to my heart.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
As a Christian, I am happy that the state cannot mandate how I worship and feel this is the most important phrase in this amendment. However, as a journalist and a citizen, I firmly believe the in the power of freedom of speech and press.
Americans are known across the globe as free thinkers With that freethinking, we have the right to express our ideas, whether they are good or bad. We are allowed to speak out about our governments from the local level on up through the national offices.
The reason our forefathers gave us freedom of speech and of the press is these virtues were oppressed by England.
Under English rule, colonists and English citizens were not allowed to talk out against the monarchy, and newspapers were not allowed to print anything negative about the monarchy.
They knew what it was like to be told how to think and feel.
When they drafted our constitution, they wanted to make sure our country's citizens would be able to think freely and express those thoughts freely, even if it means speaking out against government.
We have the responsibility to let our elected officials know how we feel about different issues that affect our lives. This includes every elected official from the mayors and council members to the President.
Last week, an article in another newspaper caught my eye. It was about a city government wanting to censor a citizen's opinion because they did not agree with it. This cannot be done. People have the right to express their opinions whether it is during the public statement portion of a council meeting, or less formally, through email or the Internet.
Men and women have fought and died to give us these rights. Our country has fought many wars in the defense of freedoms, and many families had to bury their loved ones because they did not make it home. It is wrong for anyone to attempt to take him or her away in any forum.
Free speech does not come without responsibilities.
When addressing public figures, it's important that the speakers have all the necessary information. You cannot simply get up and accuse a public official of something totally wrong. So before taking anything public, it's a good idea to discuss the issue with the official.