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A Couple of Free Speech Thoughts

Some are outraged that Twitter and other social media sites are banning certain individuals. I agree that we want to avoid limiting the free expression of ideas, but if you enter a theater and yell fire, you’ll be banned from that theater. If you enter a school and disrupt the teaching or make dangerous comments, you’ll be removed.

I’m for free speech and feel free to express opinions, even if they’re not mainstream.  But, if I incite violence or create danger, a privately owned social media business or a public school may remove some of my privileges.

Individuals wishing to incite violence will still find outlets for dangerous speech, but they can only use social media sites (businesses) willing to allow their dangerous speech and the possible accompanying litigation. Banned individuals are not the victims of a police state. It’s just capitalism and common sense. If they’re political figures, they might try having a news conference or writing a newspaper op-ed. Or, they can probably hop on other social media sites. Whining is not appropriate.

Storming Sacred Spaces

Statuary Hall in the US Capitol

I once walked through Statuary Hall of our nation’s Capitol. No one told us to be quiet in those halls. It just seemed natural out of a sense of respect. While there with a group of school principals from all fifty states, my wife and I visited the State Department after being interviewed earlier so that we could be cleared for security later that evening.

We were given time to view pieces of furniture that had connections with some of our country’s early leaders. My wife and I stood on a terrace looking out over Washington DC. In the distance, we could see the Air Force Memorial. In that moment, I remembered how I used to stand with my grandfather on his front porch in Smackover. It was a quiet time and I enjoyed just being with him as we watched steam rise from a lumber mill in the distance.

As a child, I had no idea what people and forces were at work to give me that feeling of security. While standing at the State Department looking at the Washington DC skyline, everything seemed connected. The freedom I felt as a child in small town Arkansas was provided for and protected by lives invested and sometimes sacrificed in this great city.

On Wednesday, January 6, I felt sadness as I watched our nation’s capitol stormed violently by our nation’s citizens. I didn’t feel anger as much as hurt and a sense of violation. I remembered these halls as secure. Approaching the sacred buildings in Washington DC felt like entering iron citadels, places that were secure and heavily defended.

January 6 Washington Post photo from the US Capital

The next day, I could finally feel anger. Do not come in and disgrace sacred spaces at the seat of our country’s power and authority. Our founders were flawed, as are we. They argued, debated, and wrote words beyond what they could fulfill during their lifetimes, but these words continue to challenge us today. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Like the dates below, January 6 will be a day I remember where I was when I witnessed this crime.

11/22/1963 John F. Kennedy assassinated (sitting at my desk in elementary school in El Dorado) 

4/4/1968 Martin Luther King assassinated (playing music at a friend’s house in El Dorado

9/11/2001 Twin Towers and Pentagon attacked (greeting students in front of my school in Alma)

1/6/2021 Insurgents took possession of the US Capitol (watching presidential delegate counting on television)

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