Of all the rights we have in this country, free speech is one of the hardest to love. Yet at the same time it is perhaps one of the most important. It is very easy for me to take it for granted. I am accustomed to thinking out loud sometimes, as I’m sure many others are. This would not be possible without a basic right to free speech.
This morning I ran into one of those examples that makes this right hard to love. I was driving down the road and I pulled up behind what appeared to be the quintessential redneck: beat up American made truck (heavy accent on the “u”) covered with stickers suggesting the Civil War is still raging on. I am a citizen of the United States of America. I believe that the argument over “states’ rights” (in the context of the Civil War) was really only about one “state right” – the right to enslave part of it’s own population. I believe that the battle flag of the confederacy was a symbol for one side of that fight, the side that was wrong. People say the flag in question is a historical symbol of a culture, a culture of independence and pride. It seems to me that the flag was created for one reason – to represent a group of states that wanted to retain the right to enslave. Now one question persists… why bring this up now? Wasn’t it just another ignorant, angry, southern white man? Aren’t they a dime a dozen? Am I really getting worked up over a bumper sticker again? Well, yes I am. The sticker said: “I’ll give up my flag when you give up Martin Luther King Day!”
Who can honestly compare the two? Has the education system in this country really failed us that badly? By all accounts, one stood for peace, love and equality. At best, the other stood for pride and independence – and at worst for racism, intolerance, and the right to be cruel. It pains me that we even need to have this discussion.