Medicine Lodge, Kansas's Locally Owned And Operated Newspaper

Opinion / Religion - January 25, 2021

What is freedom of speech? In youthful ignorance, I assumed it meant I could say anything I wanted. While occasionally living with my grandma, she forced me to understand a few of my words were unacceptable to the audience surrounding me. Grandma used a switch as well as bar soap in my mouth to create a filter system. But the number of words I couldn’t use was limited and as time passed so was the severity of punishment. However, if someone besides my immediate family had attempted to punish me for some inappropriate word or phrase I said, the wrath of Grandma would have left them with both physical and emotional scars.
Today we have an entire industry punishing citizens for thinking or saying contrary thoughts. A famous newspaper owner, William Hurst, once said, “I can’t tell people what to think, but I can sure as hell tell them what to think about.” I have observed the constant, and perhaps, orchestrated focus of the media in creating a single narrative on important issues without allowing opposing views. The results of those efforts frighten me.
Truthfully, I feel bewildered that so many American citizens have given up their right to freedom of self-expression and even independent thinking in exchange for the unrealistic promise of a more pleasant future, where no one says anything unkind or offensive.
We, as citizens of Medicine Lodge, have been spared most of the Machiavellian oppressions that much of our country has been suffering (i.e., a California man arrested for surfing alone in the ocean). But when organized groups have gained the power to control and punish any citizen just for their thoughts or words which the group disagrees, our constitutional rights should remain in effect no matter how dire the temporary situation may be.
I believe what we need is about 150 million Grandmas like mine, armed with switches and bars of soap to remind us all to tell the word/thought police, “BUTT OUT.” I am an American citizen and I have the right of free speech.
Although I know we are not allowed to yell fire in a crowded theater, I believe we must peacefully resist any attempt by anyone, except Grandma of course, to tell us what we can or cannot say or think. A professor told me many years ago, there are no good or bad words, only good or bad feelings associated with those words. And I have a really bad feeling about being told to shut up. How about you?

Don Vick - Medicine Lodge


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