“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” (George Orwell)

I haven’t slept much lately and I’m writing this blog at 5 a.m. because I’m deeply troubled by the terrorism taking place all over the world, but more specifically the tragedy in Paris. This one hits too close to home for those of us who believe that freedom of speech is the single most important human right. I can’t stop thinking about the danger to the future of humanity if speech is curtailed in any way, shape or form.

What these terrorists did is one of the most cowardly acts of cruelty ever conceived. It ranks right up there with the Holocaust, as pure evil. They don’t get to hide behind their so-called faith and justify their actions by being called to jihad. That’s the essence of oppression and we should all be outraged by their evil ways.

Killing another person is no way to express faith in any religion and it will not change the world. It will have the opposite effect. It will make the rest of us try that much harder to renew our faith in the sanctity of life and the value of human rights for all people, everywhere. It will bring us together and give us the strength we need to fight hateful ideology of any kind and freedom of speech is the way to win this war.

I believe in freedom of speech and I exercise my right every time I write this blog. I say whatever comes into my head and I believe my words have value for all to hear but I absolutely respect those who disagree with me and the validity of their opinions. That’s how the process works. Open and honest debate is an exchange of information not prejudices. Even when I don’t agree with someone else’s views, I’m not offended by them, they are just opinions being expressed. My reaction to them is something I choose to have, it’s not obligatory. I’m not controlled by some animal hind-brain that controls my impulses. I save my outrage for real human tragedies, like this one in Paris.

Here’s the lesson I want to impart today. Freedom of speech is the most important part of the social contract that makes peaceful coexistence possible and keeps us from living under any form of tyrannical rule. If we ever let go of our right to speak freely, we will see despotism and oppression on a scale that makes the Holocaust seem insignificant.

Fanaticism, in any form, is always guided by a lack of values, an obsession with control and a ruthless mindset. By silencing their critics, fanatics hope to intimidate the rest of us into compliance out of abject fear for our lives. They can’t make a valid argument for change because they don’t have one. Fear is all they can achieve and that’s why they hate free speech.

Free speech is the foundation of education and eventually, wisdom. It spreads the good news of humanity and compassion that fanatics are deathly afraid of and it makes life worth living. I would rather be dead than living in a world where anyone else arbitrarily decides what I should be thinking or saying. I will defend that right with my last breath if necessary and you should too. We would dishonor everything our founding fathers did for America if we ever succumb to this form of tyranny. Let’s not forget the admonition Jesus gave us long ago, “Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required.”

If there was ever a New Year’s Resolution worth keeping, this one is it. We must ALL resolve to fight oppression with the truth, abhor violence while demonstrating  compassion, speak out for those who cannot and never give in to terrorism.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content


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3 Responses to “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” (George Orwell)

  1. stormy1812 says:

    I couldn’t agree more with this (particularly as a journalist)! Terrorists are nothing more than glorified bullies – they do what they do for the same purpose as any school bully. Giving into the fear is exactly what they want and you’re right (in my opinion) that we all make the effort to stand up to terrorists or it’ll never change. Well said!

    • grhgraph says:

      I missed you. Glad you’re back. This one is critical for any and all of us who love the written word. I can’t even imagine a world where free speech is forsaken to keep bullies at bay. I am so tired of narrow-minded people who expect everyone to join them in their anger.

      • stormy1812 says:

        Absolutely! I never could understand how people think that fighting back with more hate solves anything…it doesn’t. Oy. I still hold out hope though! 🙂

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