To all American readers of this blog—happy Independence Day! Hopefully you are enjoying an extended 4th of July holiday weekend with friends and family.
To those outside the U.S.—best wishes for your happiness and freedom on this day as well. And please rest assured the people of America want our country to continue to be a beacon of light and hope to the world, no matter what you read in the news.
One of the bedrocks of our liberty is freedom of speech. It’s a rare gift in human history, and may we keep it forever.
But we seem to be at risk of forgetting how to use it properly. Too much of our speech today isn’t about articulating and defending ideas, but about shouting down and shutting down the other side. Too often, we treat those who disagree with us as not merely wrong but as evil. We don’t debate; we hate.
Over-the-top rhetoric repeated long and loud enough leads to violence, as in the horrific shooting of Representative Steve Scalise while practicing for the congressional baseball game.
We can do better. On this Independence Day, let’s remember we have freedom not just in what we say, but in how we say it. To disagree without being disagreeable. To seek accord rather than dominance.
Freedom of speech is a beautiful thing. Brave men and women died to give us this right, and continue to die defending it.
We have freedom of speech. Today, we celebrate it. How will we use it?