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The Voice of Reason

July 1, 1993

The Voice of Reason

By Tony Lamia

We don’t need any speech police!

On June 26, 2002, two federal judges ruled the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance to be unconstitutional, because it includes the words “under God.” The backlash from members of Congress as well as the public caused the judges to place the order on hold until a panel of judges reviews the case.

The backlash included a Senate resolution renouncing the court order by a 99 to 0 vote. Some senators called the judges stupid and said the order was ridiculous. Statistically, 79 percent of the American people believe that the phrase does not constitute an establishment of religion by government.

Those in favor of the ruling say that the simple solution is for people to pray at home or in church instead of in public. The ACLU wants all religious symbols removed from government buildings. Prayers cannot be recited in public schools. Many activists want “In God We Trust” removed from our currency. Extremists will not be satisfied until no vestige of religion exists, nor words of religion spoken in public. I wonder what punishment they will advocate for any violators?

Meanwhile, these same speech police want you punished if you utter any word they deem “offensive.” God forbid you should say anything against the homosexual lifestyle, or utter any word that may offend a minority.

Intellectually, the argument for eliminating religious and other “offensive” expressions in public sounds like a good idea. After all, good-hearted people don’t want to hurt others. But placing the power of speech control in the hands of lawyers and judges chills me to the bone!

Extremists fail to recognize the primary purpose of the 1st Amendment, which is to keep government out of speech control. Limiting speech must be allowed only when there is real threat of imminent harm—yelling “fire” in a theater, for an example. To allow judges to limit speech based on people’s feelings is to grant them the power to control every aspect of our daily lives.

I, for one, am very offended with most of what is being broadcast on sit-coms. The smut and disgusting, low-life garbage spewed out nightly is so bad that I find it impossible to surf through the channels without wanting to throw up! But if I brought a lawsuit to stop such sewage, the ACLU would be up in arms about my interference with Hollywood producers’ right of free speech! Hypocrisy typically abounds with extremists. Besides, you might like smut. So, would you want me to file a suit to stop your favorite show, and let the judge decide?

It makes no difference whether I’m religious. I believe that the right of everyone to express his or her views is inviolate (short of inciting violence) whether that person works for the government or in private. If a teacher or other leader at an event wants to recite a prayer or the pledge of allegiance, then he or she has every right to do so, so long as no one is forced to proclaim the same belief. If we have to worry about people being offended by what we say, there can be no freedom of speech.

Those who prefer to recite the pledge without the reference to God may do so without fear of retribution from government or anyone else. Teachers and leaders also have the right to refrain from any such recital at all. That’s what freedom is all about—letting we, the people choose.

Quite frankly, I find the phrase “with liberty and justice for all” a bit hard to swallow, because I believe that the power elite get better justice than the rest of us. Should that part be omitted because I’m offended? Let’s see if the lawyers and judges would accept my argument that they favor the elite, by using that as the basis for deleting those words. I don’t think so!

So, it all boils down to what the judges’ personally believe. Do you want judges to have such whimsical powers over everything you say and do? That’s what happens when you favor limitations on speech you don’t like. Remember, there’s always somebody who doesn’t like what you have to say either.

Your freedom is directly connected to your tolerance of other people’s views. We must all learn to “tune out” what we don’t want to hear. That’s the simple solution to this issue.

Tony L. Lamia is the publisher of The Voice of Reason Newsletter, and the author of Blame It On The System. His website is www.blamesystem.com

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