The price of free speech

Thoughts from Behind the Pressline

This country, once called the melting pot of the world, was known for taking in immigrants from all corners of the Earth and merging their cultures into ours to create a patchwork democracy. Melting pot is a term you don’t hear used much anymore, but more than any other nation, the term still applies to the U.S. today.

Sadly, it didn’t happen overnight, but over a period of time through strife and turmoil America grew to be known as the land of opportunity where freedom reined and personal beliefs were to be respected. Anyone had a shot to make it if they had fearless perseverance, conviction of beliefs and a willingness to work hard. Throughout our history, we’ve many examples of individuals that changed the course of the nation as a result of their willingness to stand up and be counted, many times going against popular opinion.

One would think that we would have learned from mistakes of the past. One would hope that only through constructive and open discussion of the issues, we could as a nation address the issues of the day in a manner that intelligently seeks to resolve any differences and reach a common ground.

Today’s hot button topics are many: immigration, gun control, same sex marriage, health care, war, religion, energy, the economy, women’s rights, education, environment, unions and big business. But there are many more.

It would be nice to think in this great communication age that tolerance and respect for the right to express one’s personal views would be paramount. But instead of encouraging open debate and discussion, we’ve continued down a prejudicial path. When all else fails, we resort to demonizing the messenger. I can understand a certain amount of trash talk among friends discussing sports, truck brands or burger choices, but on important issues in our nation’s most prestigious schools I would hope those institutions would be open minded and inquisitive.

Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at dan@newmarketpressvt.com or dan@denpubs.com.

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