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Where’s free speech?

August 10, 2012
Fairmont Sentinel

To the Editor:

For those of us who came of age during the post-war period, the crusade for free speech was one of the defining issues of the time. Government restrictions on unpopular political speech were struck down. So as to ensure speech freedoms for everyone, the opinions of anarchists, communists and revolutionaries were protected.

The culture of today insists on the expression of free speech, without regard to civility or sensitivity. It still protects speech freedom, or at least some speech freedoms. It was successfully argued in the Supreme Court against any imposition of restrictions on the marketing of violent video games to children. It defended the rights of fanatical protesters to picket the funeral of a dead soldier with signs demeaning that soldier and the country for which that soldier died. It defended to right to sell videos of animal cruelty, and the rights of sexually explicit cable operators to transmit programming in a way that could be seen by underage children. And, of course, as can be seen in the all-too-frequent attacks on Christian values in general and the Catholic Church in particular, it steadfastly defends the right to slur and attack those beliefs that, for millions, are the most sacred aspect of human life.

Given this general defense of free speech, therefore, it is inconceivable how so many politicians around the country sought to use government power to punish the simple expression by the founder of Chick-fil-A that marriage should be between a man and a woman. In the most glaring display of hypocrisy, government officials from Boston to Chicago to San Francisco threatened to use their power to close the doors of their cities to further expansion by the company. And what was the terrible deed that warranted such a vociferous and venomous attack? Simply put: it was one individual's expression of a belief that has formed the bedrock of civilization since the time of Abraham.

Michael Garry




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