An expanded version of an article published in the local newspaper, March 27th 2015
Thank you for an opportunity to contribute to rebuilding the foundation of a free society, the freedom to express dissenting views. When I think about freedom of speech the words written in 17th century the by John Locke come to mind, and the ideas and words leading to the Boston tea-party resulting in the writing by Thomas Jefferson of the most profound, intellectual statement ever written, “We hold these truth to be self-evident, that all men were created equal…..” Contrast that to the accepted life in 16th century England when Sir Thomas More was beheaded for speaking out about a despotic king Henry VIII’s sex life.
We achieved a great deal in those 100 years. Yet what of our time, this past 100 years? Are we gaining or losing on the freedom front?
We see an Islamic culture that kills over cartoons. We see prosecution, even in Canada, for publishing those same cartoons. Is this an acceptance of censorship? The intolerance of criticism by the Muslim religion is not unique. But the backlash against any religious criticism has a more fundamental root – it is the resentment of having an accepted morality challenged.
Freedom of speech is not about tolerance for ideas that we agree with but allowing debate that challenges us. That means a willingness to feel uncomfortable, to introspect and challenge our deeply held convictions.
Morality is everyone’s root. The question of right and wrong is the driving human force, an unavoidable characteristic necessary in a creature with free will. We control our own actions and as such moral-value decisions mean life or death to us.
Hence, we see personal resentment of having deeply held beliefs generate calls for restrictions on any unpopular speech. Many causes are quick to label criticism as ‘hate’ speech, a category unheard of a few years back. Fifty years ago we told individuals to ‘develop a thick skin’, that physical force was the only violation protected by law. Today the ‘thick skin’ is needed by those individuals condemned for speaking out.
Today, pressure group politics has taken precedence, and nowhere more so than in the climate debate.
Our David Suzuki, Al Gore and Nasa’s James Hansen have all called for jailing of dissenter of their viewpoint. Both Andrew Weaver and Michael Mann have used the courts in attempts to silence their critics, Tim Ball and Mark Steyn. And into the climate fray we now see US politicians persecuting Willi Soon and Roger Pielke Jr. All this for questioning a rigid mindset on global warming.
The backlash against Caleb Rossiter for speaking out when the climate-warmer zombies actively work to keep Africa poor, is a modern day example of religious excommunication.
Most people are probably tired of reading or hearing anything more on my personal crusade, the global warming subject, but I ask you to consider in what way is it important to you? Do you think a bit of freedom in your life is important. ……or do you understand the role access to affordable energy plays in your life?
Those promoting climatic disaster tell us our use of energy is harmful to the earth. They also condemn any discussion challenging them or their views.
Those few heroes bavely questioning catastrophic changes in climate are telling us the billions of dollars taxed from you are being wasted. And, if the money flow stops, a lot of people living at your expense will have to find something constructive to do. ….
So how do you react when hearing or seeing something you find disagreeable? Are you intimidated into silence? Do you censor yourself?
And from Barry Goldwater, “Extremism in defense of liberty is no vise – moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
In truth, remaining silent is little different than joining the others who sing in the choir. A difference in opinion needs to be made public…..and loudly.
And so I want to leave you with this one though, think carefully before you spend an hour in the dark this weekend. Supporting the wrong people many well give you a lot more that single hour.
Protestant minister, Martin Niemoller
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I was not a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.