Wednesday, October 5

The Freedom of Speech

After reading about the Sunday School teachers in Indonesia, I am reminded of Karen Hughes’ recent trip to Saudi Arabia. Evidently, she was chastened by the negative response to her pro-America message. Both cases illustrate the problem that Western civilization has with Islamic societies. Western values are incompatible with Islamic values.

One such value is the freedom of speech. The freedom of speech ensures the free exchange of ideas. The incorporation of the freedom of speech into the Constitution of the United States of America was not to tolerate whatever dribble people could come up with, nor was it to give a warm, fuzzy feeling to those Americans who were lucky enough to enjoy their fifteen minutes of fame. Its purpose is to create a free marketplace of ideas, so that the best ideas would rise to the top. The Founders’ hope was that America would be a country that was governed by the best ideals and ideas that her people could discover. For this reason, the Founders also included the freedom of religion and the freedom of the press.

Too much of what I see in our own country leads me to question whether many Americans understand the importance of these values. Bill Bennett’s recent troubles are an example. The distortion of his comments by some reveals a willingness to control speech. In a marketplace of ideas, the correct response is a devastating response to his argument, if his argument is indeed faulty. Through the process of argument and counter-argument, the best ideas should win out.

Precisely for this reason, the Sunday School teachers should stand firm. If Islam is the better religion, convince us. If not, then get out of the way and let these teachers do their job.

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