Next week marks another “National Freedom of Speech Week” and each year I use this occasion as an opportunity to recall how lucky we are to live in a country that respects freedom of speech and freedom of the press. I wrote up a longer essay on this back in 2006 explaining why I am so passionate about freedom of speech and why I am so thankful to live in this country. For me, it comes down to is this: In a free society different people will always have different values and tolerance levels when it comes to speech and media content. It would be a grave mistake, therefore, for government to impose the will of some on all. To protect the First Amendment and our heritage of freedom of speech and expression from government encroachment, editorial discretion over content should always remain housed in private, not public, hands.
However, there will always be those who respond by arguing that speech regulation is important because “it’s for the children.” But raising children, and determining what they watch or listen to, is a quintessential parental responsibility. Personally, I think the most important thing I can do for my children is to preserve our nation’s free speech heritage and fight for their rights to enjoy the full benefits of the First Amendment when they become adults. Until then, I will focus on raising my children as best I can. And if because of the existence of the First Amendment they see or hear things I find troubling, offensive or rude, then I will sit down with them and talk to them in the most open, understanding and loving fashion I can about the realities of the world around them. But I don’t want anyone else doing that job for me. And in America, generally speaking, they can’t. That’s worth celebrating.
And then there’s George. He alone makes freedom of speech worth celebrating: