Sunday, August 15, 2010

How free are we?

I read an article the other day that got the wheels moving in my brain. I've been thinking a lot about the freedoms granted in the Bill of Rights and how they are abused in many instances. Let me begin by saying that I support and fully believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as being divinely inspired ideas that have be misunderstood at times by the general population. But we must recognize that every action, no matter how free we are, has a consequence.

The gist of the article was that Target has exercised their newly legal right to contribute company funds to political candidates in support of a candidate who is "an outspoken opponent of gay marriage." Well, the gay and lesbian community sees this as offensive and immediately calls for an apology and a boycott of Target. So, thus far we have one group exercising a right which offends a second group, so the second group retaliates by exercising a right to harm the first group. The real kicker in the article for me was reading that the homosexual community expects Target to match the initial contribution towards another candidate who is pro-gay marriage. As they say, "The repair has to be consistent with the harm that was done."

This doesn't seem right to me. I have opinions and you have opinions, and chances are that those opinions will offend other people around us. That is a consequence of being able to voice out thoughts freely. It does not mean that we should change our opinions or that our views are wrong. It simply means that others see things differently. If we were forced to change our views every time someone was offended we would lose our freedom of speech and religion. If Target, as a company, has an opinion about who they want in government they have the right to show their opinion with the money they have earned. To force them into a position of supporting someone financially that they otherwise would not support is wrong. I have nothing against a boycott of companies that you disagree with in principle. That is also an exercise of free speech that has it's own consequences. Just don't trample on the freedom of others along the way.

Along these same lines is the Muslim community advocating a mosque be built near Ground Zero in New York City. Is it within their rights? Absolutely. Should it be done. No! It is disrespectful to everyone intimately connected to the attacks on 9/11, as well as to our country as a whole. There are numerous other mosques throughout New York City, which are a testament to the free exercise of religion we enjoy in America. I understand that the majority of the Muslim community is peaceful and we should not punish them for the actions of a splinter group who do not live peacefully, but they should be understanding of people feeling this is inappropriate. I could continue on this subject, but I will not.

I guess what I'm really getting at is respect and self-control. Respect for our freedoms by exercising them with careful judgment. Respect for others by not blatantly using our freedoms to do harm. Respecting the nature of consequences for actions and being willing to accept those consequences. It has become popular in society to just do things because we can, because it's within our rights. Judgment and restraint are all but gone from our minds. And the government feeds that mentality by telling us that we are entitled to everything under the sun and that they should be the ones to provide it for us.

Yes, we are the most free people in the world, but exercising our rights and freedoms does not absolve us of the consequences of our actions.


Jeanie Doll said...

Once again, you've got it right! I agree with you on all points. Why does the gay community think they are the only issue!?