In a speech to army officers on March 15, 1783, George Washington told the men that if the freedom of speech were taken away then “dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter.” Centuries have passed but Washington’s words hold the same truth today as they did in 1783.
I am gravely disappointed by the necessity of publishing an article of this nature. The constitutional freedom of speech that we all enjoy is under attack in our country. Political correctness has permeated society and oversensitivity has halted productive conversation within our borders. There are extremists on both sides of the political aisle that force their insecurities on the rest of us by crying foul over every word that they find offensive.
In Washington’s day, freedom meant something. He and others fought valiantly to secure our lasting independence. Decade after decade, brave men and women have sacrificed their lives to keep the very thing Washington sought: our freedoms. The sensitivity toward words in America is contrary to everything our founders fought for. Today, decent people must tread on eggshells to keep from being labeled racists, bigots, homophobes, Islamophobes, sexist, or a host of other names not suitable for print in this article. This is not the America Washington and others felt so passionately about.
Truth is an uncomfortable thing. There seems to be a growing percentage of Americans who do not want to deal with the truth. I do not have any scientific data to back up such a claim, but I do have my observations of the world. My observations suggest that free speech is morphing into filtered speech. No longer can we humbly offer an opinion. In order to prevent nonsensical backlash, those with unpopular sentiments must filter their words so as to not offend anyone.
The position in which we find ourselves should be concerning to us all. We live in a society that increasingly seeks to restrict speech that goes against what elites have deemed the status quo. For example, homosexuality is more widely accepted in the country than it has ever been before. If a Christian were to speak out against homosexuality as a result of his religious beliefs, he would instantly be branded a homophobe because he does not support such a lifestyle. If a white man were to speak out against a black man, say, President Obama, he is branded a racist because of the color of his skin. If a man were to speak against abortion, he is branded as the enemy in the “war on women” because men should not have an opinion on the matter.
Is it really so difficult to have a constructive conversation about controversial issues that civility has become hostility? Many Americans simply do not want to have a conversation. They want the world to agree with them and any opposition to be silenced. This is not the American way. We should be ashamed that political correctness has penetrated so far into the essence of America.
“Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction,” former President Reagan said at his first inauguration as governor of California. It is my sincere hope and prayer that we will not be the generation reflected in history as the one facilitating the extinction of freedom.
I have chosen not to give up my freedom to speak and hope that you will do the same, whether you agree with my positions or not. Washington offered a chilling prediction of what will happen if the freedom of speech is ever lost. The slaughterhouse is closer than it has ever been. Do not fall dumb and silent and be led through its doors.