Viewpoint Dr. Larry Burriss: Free Speech, First They Came…


Here’s a quotation from German theologian Martin Niemoller:
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

So here’s a question for those of you who seem to favor banning speech: What are you going to do when big tech decides to cancel your account because someone doesn’t like what you have to say?
What are you going to do when there is no one left to protect your right to speak out?
And here’s a quotation from Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: “If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought—not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”
So, how willing are you to listen to ideas you don’t like?  Or, put another way, how opposed are you to big tech deciding what you can, or cannot, listen to? Even for ideas you hate?
Or try this quote from Winston Churchill: “Everyone is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled. But some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.”
So, when are people going to realize there is not a speech, or kind of speech, on the planet someone does not consider outrageous? And it may come as a surprise, but I bet there is someone who considers your speech to be outrageous, and would like to censor it.

Larry Burriss, a professor in Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Mass Communication and president of the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame, welcomes the crowd before the induction ceremonies at the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters conference in Murfreesboro for the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Once censorship starts, it is almost impossible to stop it. Unless everyone supports the idea, and practice, of free speech for everyone.
I’m Larry Burriss.