Freedom of Speech and Responsibility
No matter how fervently someone believes in the justice of his cause, suppression of the free exchange of ideas is failure at best or downright wrong. The power or might behind an idea does not make the idea right. Many powerful people throughout history have been wrong. Few people, if any, would judge "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" to be subversive or wrong. In 1939 Ambassador Kennedy was so caught up in the fears of the times that he was willing to use the power of his money to protect the world against a film. When people are caught up in the movements of their time, all people must be extra zealous to guard and encourage freedom of expression. Otherwise, a mob mentality reigns, and people rush to do things that are not thought out and often regretted later.
The founders of our country knew from experience how important free expression of ideas is. Many of them, along with popular demand, insisted that the Constitution immediately be amended by the Bill of Rights. The first article of the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of expression:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Without freedom of expression, no people are truly free. Sometimes a person will hide repression by telling people under his authority that they are free to believe anything they want--they just can't voice their beliefs. They are free to think anything, but aren't allowed to say what is on their minds.
What are some examples of this mentality? For decades people in the Soviet Union were free to believe anything about God that they wanted to, but they weren't free to fully express their religious beliefs. Prisoners of war have described the mind control techniques of their captors, and the techniques center around allowing the prisoners to express only acceptable things. In fact, mind control is essentially controlling what a person says. George Orwell wrote a classic book, 1984, in which the plot revolves around the mind or expression control techniques of "Big Brother." People who are not free to express fully what they are thinking are not free in their thoughts or lives. After all, don't we often form and solidify our thoughts as we express them? What is the counseling process except people finding personal freedom by expressing thoughts and feelings that have been repressed?
How do people hide their repressive actions? They confuse such things as patriotism, loyalty, or duty with repression. Would a patriotic person ever knock his commander or the commander-in-chief, the President? They use legitimate exceptions such as national security to squelch the proper spread of information. Any time someone's God given right to express himself is...