Sunday, March 1, 2015

Criticism and Free Speech in a Democratic Society of Equals

We the People are indeed fortunate to be citizens of a nation which officially recognizes individual human freedoms and constitutionally protects free speech.

The assassination in Russia of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov serves as a stark reminder of the differences between free individuals speaking our minds and intolerant government dominated societies which don't alow such freedoms. See Boris Nemtsov's Career Traces Ark of Russia's Dimmed Hopes for Democracy.

We have many problems in America, and many government rules and regulations which unduly interfere with and serve to restrict our individual freedoms. And even though we're the wealthiest nation with the highest standard of living the world has ever known, we still have too much unequal opportunity and too much income inequality, something that is perhaps inevitable in a free society.

As an example, our system of public education is in serious need of repair and individual vouchers. There is also an overemphasis of the importance of winning high school and college athletic programs (basketball and football especially) instead of placing a similar importance on 'winning' through the pursuit of academic excellence by these 'could-be but usually aren't student athletes.' Please see the post yesterday on "March Madness ...Truth Telling Time."

All that said, not enough of us take the time to raise our voices when we see things that need changing.

Friedrich A. Von Hayek long ago spoke simply but eloquently about the need for criticism by members of a free society in his 1944 book "The Road to Serfdom." In the following brief excerpt, he was describing the elements of a totalitarian society:

"It is not difficult to deprive the great majority of independent thought. But the minority who will retain an inclination to criticize must also be silenced. . . . Public criticism or even expressions of doubt must be suppressed because they tend to weaken public support."

Summing Up

So speak up, my fellow Americans, when you see things that need correcting or improving.

It's both our right and duty as free individuals in a free society of equals.

Whether it's related to such things as radical Islamist terrorism, the weaknesses or expenses of our public schools, right-to-work laws, race relations, the police, national defense, our wrongheaded emphasis on youth sports to the exclusion of properly educating the young people involved in those sports, our devious government 'leaders' pitting one segment of our population against another, the 'fairness' of having government funded and taxpayer supported public sector employee guaranteed pension benefits vs. the private sector's 401(k) plans and their unguaranteed benefits, or anything else that comes to mind and either seeks or tends to divide We the People, it's always time to seek and then to tell the truth as we see it. That's both our right and duty.

And in America, we're not likely to get shot for doing so.

And when we do take the time to question the 'powers that be' or the prevailing status quo, we should expect to be criticized or even condemned by others who have a strongly held and different point of view.

And while that subsequent criticism may seem to us to be unfair or even a 'cheap shot,' so what?

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

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