Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Present Bruhaha

This is a cross-post from the Red Room.

This is a departure from anything I planned to write here, but I am compelled to say something on the topic of Free Speech. As a writer, words are the tool of my trade. I revere them.
What is more, I cherish our First Amendment right to free speech in America, even when it means that occasionally I am offended and appalled by the moronic and would-be-laughable-if-I-didn't-know-these-idiots-are-serious crap that oozes out from under the rocks where the right wing-nuts hide while trying to undermine the very freedoms we cherish. They have a right to their opinions, and I have the right to call them fools and idiots. They have the right to call the president of our country names, and I have the right to be offended and angered by their disrespect for the Office of the Presidency even if they don't like the politics of the man who holds it. (I thought the prior occupant of the Office a puppet for a cabal that was intent upon doign everything they could to run our country into the ground. I have a right to that opinion, too.)
That's what freedom of speech is about.
What alarms me more than the idiotic rantings of idiots like Rush Limbaugh and his ilk, is that public school districts are bending to the pressure from the right and declining to show the president's speech during school. I have no problem with districts allowing students to opt out. For years schools have permitted students opt out of the Pledge of Allegiance. (I personally have a problem with that, but that's my problem.) They have also allowed parents to request that students be excused from reading such revolting and insidious works of trash [NOT!] as Huckleberry Finn or Black Like Me or Catcher in the Rye or Lord of the Flies.
What I object to is the superintendents, principals and teachers in America's public schools refusing to allow our president to address the students of America with the insidious and politically objectionable message that they should study hard and become good citizens. Someone objected to the speech because President Obama might try to get kids to vote. That is a bad thing how??? Young people vote in lower numbers than any other group. I love the idea that our president would speak to kids, encouraging them to take their studies and their citizenship seriously.
The first year I voted was 1972. During that campaign, I recall that President Nixon specifically encouraged young people to vote. As much as I despised the man, I never once thought that he had no right to do that. On the contrary, I love the idea that any president would take the time to speak directly to the youth of America, encouraging them to take their citizenship seriously.
President Obama is by all accounts a very good father. He is a wonderful role model for young people. At the beginning of a new school term he has offered to address the school children of the country he leads, to encourage them with his words and to inspire them with the witness of his own rise from humble roots to the presidency by virtue of hard work and education.
How in the world could anyone think that's a bad thing?
Some days I fear for my country. Today is one of them.

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