Monday, April 18, 2011

Freedom of Thought

I am often shocked at what does not shock people. Sometimes it is seeing a parent give in to the terrorist demands of a small screaming child. (You know how Iran freed the US hostages the day Reagan took office? That is the kind of fear and authority my parents had. They would not negotiate with terrorists.)

Another thing is freedom of thought. America is unique in many ways, good and bad, but one thing that we have is freedom to believe what we want and to express it.Governments have long tried to control thoughts, and even those that realize that you can't turn the screws on if you try to express it.

Obviously you can see in history dramatic examples

like Nero's persecution of early Christians but it isn't an issue just “in the old days.” Just a few years ago a Canadian Judge ruled that freedom of speech did not apply in Canada because it was an American right, not a human right. “Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value. It’s not my job to give value to an American concept,’’ he said.

The other night I went to have my hair cut. The gentleman who cut it was Ahmet a Turkish expatriate. He and I talked about his childhood and what he thought about America. I asked him what he felt the best and worst things about America were. The worst thing, he told me, was that youngsters do not respect their elders. The thing he said Turkey (and he also extrapolated) the rest of the Middle East) needed from America was freedom of speech and religion.

Sometimes I am shocked that we are not shocked that so many people do not have freedom to believe what they want. I cannot say it better than Reagan, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

What shocks you that should shock others?

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