by RANDALL S. FONG, Kennewick
Now I'm madOur nation was founded on the principles of unbridled free speech. The unrestrained expression of thoughts and ideas is what makes this country so great. Without this precious right, a guy like me would not have the opportunity to pen this passage.
However, as citizens of a free society, we must understand there are great responsibilities with the rights endowed to us. Yet some of us fail to recognize this; we become so concerned with our rights to do as we please that we forget our actions have consequence, which in some instances lead to violence.
Not only must we exercise our rights responsibly, we also have an obligation to react responsibly, especially when someone negatively inflames our passions. The price we pay for freedom of speech is the potential for others to express ideas that are disagreeable to our own or are highly offensive. But we have options to respond as rational human beings. We can choose to simply ignore it. Or we can use that very same freedom to provide a more convincing counter-argument, to create something more influential or more profound. We battle like with like, not in ways that violate the rights of another.
By asking government to protect us from speech that might incite violence, are we not asking an elite few to become our paternalistic censor? How much further would they then limit individual rights for the sake of protecting us from ourselves?
Though we may not control another's repulsive dialogue or successfully sway another's opinion, we have the tremendous power to change our own attitude to any given situation at any time; therein lies the beauty of being a free-thinking individual. History shows us that the most world-changing ideas came not by violent force, but from the sublime creativity of the human mind.