“Speech is not free, and can never be fully refunded.”
(Care to tweet that line?)
One of my (favorite) former students posted this on her Facebook status recently, and it got me to thinking. How very true it is! Once more, I was reminded that, though we live in America and are so fortunate to have many rights, with those rights come responsibility. John Adams, our second President, said it this way:
…this country will be the most miserable habitation in the New World; because we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other… (See the full text here.)
Our Constitution does not control us unduly, because it’s understood that we will exercise SELF-control. I sometimes get depressed and discouraged, listening to the news and hearing about selfish people demanding their “rights”, regardless of how those “rights” affect other people. I suppose those thugs who demonstrate and spew hate at military funerals have the “right” to do so, but it is still WRONG for them to do it. There is a legal battle going on now in my neighboring town of Kountze, where the high school cheerleaders began painting encouraging Scriptures on the run-through signs (instead of things like “Kill the bears!”) and ONE PERSON got offended and wants it stopped. My two cents says my freedom of religion doesn’t mean you can’t practice your freedom of religion. We are right smack in the Bible belt here in Southeast Texas, and the vast majority of people who attend the games are very supportive of the girls (even before it became such a hot issue). If I were in a predominantly Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim community, and the children held up signs with teachings from their Sacred Books, I would not be offended and insist they take them down, or add Christian messages!
But I thing my student was really just talking about zipping her lips. Sometimes we all say things that maybe are right, but are not necessary. What’s the acronym? TRUTH? Is it true? Is it right? Is it ___??? Is it helpful? (I can’t remember or find them all! Help me!) Or as the Bible says in Philippians 4:8, Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable– if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things. I don’t think we would be defiling Scripture if we would say SPEAK these things.
So thank God for your rights and freedoms. But don’t take advantage of them and hurt others. Speech is not free.
If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.