Summer is here and with it the celebration of American values and freedom on Independence Day. Or, as it is known by citizens from sea to shining sea – The Fourth of July! And this year I couldn’t be more excited to celebrate the freedoms that are so hard won by our brave men and women in uniform and so near and dear to the hearts of all Americans.
As most of you know, my beautiful bride Meda and I not only run The Mountain Breeze but we also live here in Rutherford County now and this year I’m excited to be able to attend a local baseball game to watch the Forest City Owls play ball and then shoot off some fireworks to celebrate our country. And I’m also happy to celebrate what it means to have true Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. The Mountain Breeze and my other newspaper job The Mecklenburg Times wouldn’t be what they are without being enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
But our freedoms are constantly under assault. Sometimes even well-meaning politicians can get caught up in restricting what people are or are not allowed to talk about in their workplace, their place of worship or even the street corner. Sure, some government restrictions on speech make sense in rare instances. Nobody wants to have some joker yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater now do they?
But telling people they can’t ask about certain topics at their job – yes, even their government job – is an affront to our constitutional rights. And that’s exactly the kind of law passed by the N.C. legislature earlier this year when they voted to disallow certain questions from being asked to potential employees regarding sensitive racial and sexual topics. In addition, this new law would forbid employees from discussing those topics in their government run offices or promoting or denigrating these types of ideas.
I hope the folks we send to Raleigh will keep this in mind the next time they’re asked to vote on such a restriction for government employees. Once the government starts making laws regarding who is allowed to talk about which things in which places and restricting what questions we are allowed to ask, it’s a bad idea. What will they do next, tell me I can’t write about certain topics on these very pages? And I hope you, dear reader, will keep in mind who DID vote to restrict your rights the next time you head to the ballot box.
For now, let’s be thankful we still have the freedom of press – and freedom of speech – that we so cherish here in the good ol’ U.S. of A.