Originally created 04/09/00

Discusses p.c. threat to free speech

In the March 31 editorial, "Free speech threat," The Chronicle correctly opposed limitations on free speech imposed by efforts to be "politically correct."

However, you didn't address what I consider a major problem with the way free speech is presented to the public -- a factor I

believe allows the suppression of individuality, dear to Americans, in the futile effort to avoid offending anyone. If you ask a number of citizens, they will say that the First Amendment is about free speech. Most will add freedom of religion, and some will mention freedom to assemble.

None will know why this is the First Amendment.

The First Amendment to the Constitution was not written so that someone may babble foolishly, curse on TV or declare that a cross dipped in urine is art. This is obvious if you think about the author and his venue. It was written for the express purpose of allowing people to assemble and chart the course of government.

Remember the Declaration of Independence? It says "a just government rules with the consent of the governed," in direct contrast to the practice of the king of England. To bring this about, the public had to be able to gather together and discuss items of public interest. These items would bring with them controversy, and so the First Amendment prevents one faction from forbidding the discussion of any point dealing with the business of government.

As a follow-up, since one cannot have the power to consent without the power to deny, the Second Amendment follows immediately. No, that one's not about hunting, or even about crime, for this is the Constitution we are addressing -- a set of limitations on government, not on the people protected by it.

Incidental issues have been allowed to become the focus of arguments about the First Amendment due to monetary influence. We encourage "offended" people to seek money to assuage their hurt feelings. This perversion has been aided by bad law and the deliberate manipulation of the public's emotions by people seeking power or profit.

I urge that everyone disregard the frivolous and counterproductive activity called "political correctness," which in many cases requires deliberate disregard of the truth. Tell it like it is. The truth hurts only those who cling to deception.

John Culbert, Williston


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