Freedom of expression requires expectation of civility

June 27, 2017 GMT

None of us has a right to live our lives unoffended by anyone. Indeed, as Salman Rushdie noted, “Without the freedom to offend, (freedom of expression) ceases to exist.” But there is a line that should not be crossed. That line is advocating violence against others with whom we might disagree, or using rhetoric so inflammatory that it incites a violent response.

Somewhere along the line, our society has lost its basic virtue, the ability to co-exist peaceably with others. Common civility, good manners and empathetic behavior toward our fellow humans are now derisively labelled political correctness, while hateful speech, bullying and even physical violence have attained the sacrosanct status of freedom of speech and expression.

Civilization cannot exist long under a banner of ethnic and ideological purity. The result will be constant war. Is this what we really want for ourselves and our children? That the United States become another country of perpetual war and destruction?

It is encouraging to see more people trying to be kind to each other, but it must translate into the political realm – we need to vote for candidates who pledge to remain respectful of others and work toward policies that accommodate the basic needs of all the people, not just the Republicans or Democrats. If we continue to vote for politicians who represent ideological purity, we will get what we deserve and I doubt we will enjoy the results.

Ruthann Yaeger