Letter: Wright’s visit prompts thoughts on free speech
Perhaps the readers of the Gazette-Journal might recall my recent letter that spoke directly to the issue of freedom of speech and the First Amendment. I claimed some things could not be said in America today without running the risk of recrimination for having done so.
With the visit by the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright to a local black church in Mathews County, would one dare comment upon the Reverend Wright’s black liberation theology and his views regarding America?
To venture into this topic might prompt a suspicion that anyone who dares address this topic must have racist motives. With free speech being repressed and largely subservient to such influences as political correctness and hate speech legislation, many have simply succumbed to the tendency to self-censor.
In this instance, I am curious as to how this would be viewed had the church in question been that of a largely white congregation and that church having invited a speaker of similar controversial notoriety? Just how might the readers of this letter view this event, had the situation been reversed?
May I propose a purely hypothetical scenario: What if the invited speaker to that church had been someone of such controversial nature as a David Duke? Just how would such an invitation be viewed by the citizens and media? Would the tendency to self-censor be in evidence?
Perhaps some reflection is in order upon the words and intent of the Framers in crafting the First Amendment. Might I also speculate as to just how my words will be construed. Might I be simply given to recognition as one with an abiding love for the founding values of America, or merely dismissed as one of being divisive or racist?
I offer premise simply to prompt reflection and to hopefully engender an appreciation for the founding values of America and the principles of that founding that were so skillfully crafted within the Declaration of Independence and the framing of the Constitution.
May I pose two questions regarding the exercise of free speech in this era of political correctness: When does free speech become that which has been recently defined and legislated as hate speech? and, does that definition involve the race of the speaker?
I recall a very prescient quote involving the aspect of dissent with regards to free speech. President Kennedy’s words have acquired a poignancy that is appropriate for this era: "We shall need compromise in the days ahead, to be sure. But these will be, or should be, compromises of issues, not compromises of principles."
Port Haywood, Va.