Are you afraid to say what you think?

Many have said we are losing our freedom of speech. Basically, large segments of society don’t want freedom of speech, and they are making it less and less free by imposing penalties for using it. The daily news is filled with stories about people who spoke out and then got fired from their jobs, banned from the organizations they used to call home, or kicked senseless (or worse) on a city street.

People no longer consider there’s any reason to be civil to each other: just look at the name-calling in the social media or the public statements made about newsmakers that are so vitriolic they would have been considered libel a few years ago. It’s not much of a stretch to say that if we–as a society–are now allowing violence under the threat of more violence, we’ll soon de-criminalize violence. One deterrent to Freedom of Speech is mob-enforced political correctness.

This means bands of thugs can torch a building, burn a car, or kick a person to death–all fully documented by videos and eyewitnesses–then they’ll continue doing it because–as one apologist said–violence is pleasurable–and we’ll begin living lives as though we’re all in a jungle of fang and claw. In some cities, we’re already there.

In some ways, the current chaos of violence occurs because people feel entitled to be violent. So it is, that I no longer feel safe enough to:

  • Put a political bumper sticker on my car
  • Display a candidate’s yard sign in front of my house
  • Post about the pros and cons of parties or candidates on Facebook
  • Wear a political hat or tee shirt
  • Be seen with anyone wearing a political hat or tee shirt

The problem is larger than this list, of course. But I no longer feel safe enough to say how much larger it is on this blog. I will say, that most of us see and hear enough stuff daily to know how and why the problem is larger and what it takes to solve it.

–Malcolm

 

Zero Tolerance: White Supremacists Take Over D.C. Bookstore Reading

White supremacists briefly took over a reading by author Jonathan Metzl at the flagship location for Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington D.C. on Saturday, shouting “this land is our land” and marching through the store yelling the name of a group that helped to organize the 2017 Charlottesville Unite the Right rally.

Source: White Supremacists Take Over D.C. Bookstore Reading

I am worried about the future of free speech because this kind of crap marks people of either major political party as targets for disruptive actions. That makes it harder for a person to speak out–or to have the guts to speak out.

As my novels suggest, I have zero tolerance for racism and white supremacy in any form. I also have zero tolerance for jeopardizing the right of anyone to speak out whether it’s from threats of violence at planned speeches by members of either party at campuses and other venues or hate campaigns against authors/bloggers online.

If a person or a group won’t even let the opposition speak, that person or group is bankrupt and without any value whatsoever.

–Malcolm

 

Child marriages in the U.S. due to a federal loophole 

“The United States Department of State calls child marriage “gender-based violence.”  The United States Agency for International Development calls it “a human rights abuse.” Across the board, our government condemns child marriage worldwide and provides funding for programs that fight this abuse overseas. But the U.S. government makes exceptions when it comes to children living in the U.S.

 

“The state laws within the United States do not align with our own internationally proposed standards of how other countries should treat their children. Forty-eight states are failing to protect girls from child marriage. They have dangerous loopholes and exceptions that allow for marriage, some even have no minimum age for marriage. Shockingly, it is legal for a U.S. citizen child to sponsor a visa for a foreign-born spouse or fiancé(e).”

Source: Federal Loophole Responsible for Countless Child Marriages in the U.S. – The AHA Foundation

As a strong supporter of the AHA Foundation, my sense of the American Public’s attitude about religious or culturally based violence against women is that it occurs in third world countries. Unfortunately, child marriages, among other travesties, also occur in the U.S.

Like Native American women who are swept into sex trafficking, women from third world countries who legally come to the United States are often swept into unwanted and often-abusive child marriages. I agree with the AHA’s assertion that “Putting in place a minimum age of 18 to sponsor a spousal/fiancé(e) visa is a simple, common-sense solution that would protect U.S. children from the very real threats associated with forced and child marriage.”

Today’s volatile political climate has lent itself to poetry, essays, articles, and novels as writers find themselves unable to keep silent. Good for them. I would like to see more novels in defense of women that explore child marriages in a country where the very concept is solidly against such practices.

–Malcolm

 

Independence Day

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” ~Erma Bombeck

A few Americans are looking at New York City from the Statue of Liberty’s re-opened crown today. Many will see fireworks, if not in their home towns, but on television. Many are spending the day with family. Many are having–or will soon have–a fantastic meal. All of us who celebrate this day one way or another are enjoying what we have: freedom.

We did not achieve freedom easily; in fact, in the years leading up to the vote of Congress on July 2, 1776, most colonists were not seeking or expecting independence from England.

We have not kept freedom easily, whether one considers wars or laws or political debates or a catalogue of threats dealt with.

As we enjoy the day, perhaps we will put off thinking that we will not keep our freedom easily. We have the power to destroy ourselves or to maintain the best of what we’ve had even within the scope of ever-changing conditions and challenges.

It’s a matter we must see to, as those who’ve come before us have seen to it for 233 years. I hope we remain up to the task.