Larry Westin's thoughts about Free Speech
May 4, 1966 was my second day of U.S. Air
Force basic training. First thing that morning the drill sergeant
stood up before the assembled group and receited the quote below,
which he said came from "some admiral."
"I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend with my life your RIGHT to say it."
That, continued the drill sergeant, is the reason you are here, the primary reason for serving in the United States military! Certainly each point of the Bill of Rights is important, but the RIGHT of Free Speech is paramount. The drill sergeant finished by emphasizing it is not important that you agree with someones opinion or thoughts, what is important is that everyone has the RIGHT to express their own thoughts and opinions.
Actually I learned later that the quote came from Voltaire, a French Philosopher who died in 1778. Voltaire developed his philosophy on free speech after leaving France and living in England.
The drill sergeant may have been in error about precisely who made the quote, but his concept of basic human rights, and the need to preserve them was entirely correct, at least in my view.
Personally I find too much said on Internet is revolting, often totally inaccurate to the point of being an outright lie, yet I still disagree with censorship. My biggest concern is just who is it that will make the judgement on just what I can or can't see?
Don't assume because you read or hear something that it is true, rather research further, confirm or refute what you read or heard before passing it on to others.
Freedom of Speech is a most important RIGHT, use it wisely and don't allow it to be diluted. Select your words carefully to always treat all others with dignity and respect. Remember they have a RIGHT to their opinion, even if it is very different from your own.
Thank you for your time - Larry Westin