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Letter: We must protect free speech, no matter how disagreeable

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Far more intelligent, eloquent and true patriots than I have universally identified the one political and social right unique to United States citizens that ensures both freedom and greatness as free speech. Though limitations have been imposed, fire in a crowded theater, fighting words, threats to public officials, freedom from government restriction of speech is universally accepted by Americans as our most basic right. However I fear in today’s America, the prevailing political and social order, has used the instantaneous, overwhelming tsunami of social media to intimidate, quell, shame and ultimately silence any opinion and/or speech with which they don’t agree.

Their target is not just repugnant, offensive speech/opinion, but even legitimate basic opposition opinions. Due to the demonstrated silencing and intimidation such an onslaught has, I assert the zealous protection of all non popular speech/opinion is even more necessary now than ever. An American has the right to espouse racist, sexist, homophobic, and other similar ignorant opinions. One can believe that police arrest only those that have committed a crime and that judges and juries convict only guilty people. On the other side one has the right to believe all middle age white men are racist, all wealthy people evil, and all blonde women stupid. Members of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis must be able to espouse their filth, the same way that radical groups on the left can espouse their Marxist anarchistic nonsense.

Of course those opposed are free to boycott, protest, isolate or just plain ignore anyone or any group they do not agree with. However attempts to silence, censor or limit such garbage are increasing, yet misguided and counterproductive. It is far better to ensure such nonsense gets a free and complete hearing. Think of how national exposure to Ross Barnett, Bull Conner and George Wallace lead, in part, to the majority of Americans realizing just how absurd their ideas were, and how fundamentally wrong, even criminal, the policies based upon those beliefs were them. Most recently, through repeated thorough examination, the, at first glance, uniquely American, populist based, political ideals that got an outsider elected president against all odds, has proven to be deceptive, valueless, downright obscene rhetoric. Please let them keep talking.

Tom Conway

Tonawanda

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