Free Speech: We Can’t Afford the High Price Tag

America, despite all of her current woes, still remains the greatest country in the world. One of our ultimate freedoms is the right to openly express ourselves without fear of retribution. Journalists, reporters and news broadcasters are all guaranteed protection under the Constitution.
Recently, the Journal News in White Plains, NY, posted the names and addresses of all registered gun owners in Rockland and Westchester Counties. In an overzealous attempt intended to protect communities from a potential repeat of the Newtown CT incident, they inadvertently put tens of thousands of innocent citizens at risk. Those needing to keep their identity hidden, such as judges, law enforcement officials, and women of domestic violence, were now easy targets for anyone with a vendetta against them. Arguing that they only released information that was already on public record, the nationwide outcry of anger took them by surprise.
Free speech isn’t as free as some believe. With it comes an expectation of great responsibility and respect for the rights of others and a strong moral code of behavior. Within our own families we often blurt out whatever we want without regard to how the other party may feel upon hearing it. We can be rude, hurtful, mean-spirited, and hateful. “It’s a free country. I can say whatever I want and if they can’t deal with it, oh well! Too bad! That’s not my problem.” This arrogant attitude reeks of selfishness and disrespect. The cost of “free speech” can be wounded self-esteem, fractured relationships, alienation, damaged reputations, and in cases such as the Journal, putting others in harm’s way.
While I fully support the First Amendment and encourage open and honest expression of one’s feelings, I also believe we have a responsibility to take great care in the way we exercise our right. My rights do not supersede the rights of others. So before speaking, consider the following questions:
• Is what I’m about to say or do kind?
• Does it emanate from a place of love for all parties?
• Is it based on truth rather than speculation, lies, jealousies or my own insecurities?
• Does it care for the well-being of all those concerned?
• Does it take into consideration the feelings and needs of the other?
• Is it absolutely the best choice I can make at this time?
• Will it achieve long-lasting and far-reaching benefits for all those concerned?*
In all areas of life we have options as to how we handle ourselves. Let us vow to always make choices that are life-affirming and beneficial to all of humanity.

*The Great Truth @

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