Today, September 17, is Constitution Day. We are continuing to receive and post excellent comments from members of the Trinity community to the questions I posed on Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion. These posts will continue for the next several days since the volume is terrific. Here are the latest comments:
From Robin Dillard Harris, Trinity@THEARC:
“1. Has Freedom of Speech gone too far? Outrageousness in the form of e.g., burning the Koran is foolish when lives are at stake and only shows the callousness of how people misuse freedom through actions with no true responsible and intelligent thoughts of the repecussions of those actions. The people of the nation ovearseas have fought from almost the beginning of time over land, water, etc. Freedom of speech should be intelligent, carefully written out while keeping in mind, some type of responsibility behind it that can improve a quality of life humanitarily. Consequences of lives in wartime should not be an expense of the USA. Yes, people want to believe that they are right in what they think and do, but how can one really deal with a one-minded, selfish being that truly feel that all they do, say or think is the right and only way? People will use an arm for an arm as an excuse like two wrongs will make a right, but they really do not mean it until it personally affects them such as, their arm or they were wrong then, the scream lienency. Amazing how the same people who burn the American flag and the King James and any other bible or religious material and denounce all other beliefs, stongly feel that their materials and beliefs should be and are to be respected, kept sanctified, pure and imperialized!
“When I was approached by a religious organization with their material, I told them that I would take it if, they could confess that Jesus is The Son of God, that Jesus died, was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven…I was told that he (Jesus) was just a prophet and no, they do not believe in Jesus as The Son of God and with what seemed as hateful, disapproving looks of disgust, they walked away.
“Religion is a very hard argument and people will not always change. We pray for their souls, we help them in their hardships with true empathy, with education, economic growth, medicine, etc., when oftenmost, we neglect our own or give our own less than 10% of which is known and seen by most of the people we try to help…what more loyalty can a nation give in humanitarianism, to those people who seem to be so unappreciative and still inre: to America, we are so hated!
“Women are still demeaned, devalued and mistreated with the cruelest of crimes and I am told in their books–law, so it is written! 9/11 was so sad this year; given little to no mention with the exception of the e.g., burning of the Koran. Emblazoned in the hearts and minds of those who felt it through a personal lost, 911 should be a day of memorial as Memorial Day itself. Why would the mayor of NY sale that property to people of a religion or culture knowing the sensitivity of what happened at Ground Zero? Why didn’t the people who purchased the land not desire to build a memorial to the beloveds of those who perished? Why couldn’t there had been some mention of per se, though we did not personally commit the devastation, we would like to place a memorial at Ground Zero. People know that certain actions they do will incite responses that will seem as tho to prove that Americans don’t really mean what they say. That Ameraicans are deceitful, liars, cheaters, untrustworthy. So often people will choose something that is very personal and sensitive such as, this particular area where so many lives were lost and try to force us or our hands to choose if we are liars or not! My response would have been, “No, this area is not for private sale and is, declared sacred to be used for a memorial inre: 9/11/2001 memorial with the names of those persons written in stone as well as, the heroes and all others who assisted and as an educational cultural museum on humanitarianism. Besides, I know you would not want to disrespect the memory of that date, not placing blame on you because of your religion but, a muslim sect being the operative in the cause of 9/11 would seem like a bold blatant act of disrespect to not only the beloveds of those who died or were severly injured and to the USA, however, if you wish to contribute to the memorial fund, it would be accepted and appreciated!”
“2. Is Freedom of Religion in danger? Religion have always been in danger with mankind making changes in acceptance to I would say, the value of the dollar. Freedom ranges with how much money will it bring int in acceptance of alll that is not “holy” and is in contradiction of the King James and many other bibles. What could be a more controversial subject? People practice everything and have made so many changes in the bible (KJ) that they have reconstructed newer ones that are supposed to help one to understand and interpet while studying the (KJ) is now, making the (KJ) obsolete! Is government doing enough to protect everyone’s right to practice their religion in peace and safety? The government has done as much to be expected in protecting everyone’s right that it is hard to find religion anywhere in the schools or government offices except in courthouses, on money and holidays as they (the government) have chosen to give paid leave for and it is a wonder why there is so little respect and ungratefulness in America.
“Should some religious leaders chill out when it comes to advocating for their rights? As I stated above, use responsibly, your rights acknowledging every possible consequence of which would be a lost or any conviction of life and humanitarianism. What purpose would the action fulfill, if a life is taken, surely the people who are in our military, the goverment, the news people, embassies, families, people of the country, etc., should not be subjected to be harmed, detained or whatever in any way, shape of form, due to someone’s lack of intelligence while using their right to free speech!”
From Tracey Prince, Human Resources:
“Freedom of Speech goes too far when it is slanderous, full of libelous assaults, and provokes violence. The freedoms that we hold dear come with social and ethical responsibilities. As believers of separate religious doctrines, Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. must understand that in their individual heart of hearts they have a certain understanding and discernment of their specific faiths. I am a Christian and believe that the Holy Bible is the Truth and no one can sway my belief of this ‘fact’. I should be able to proclaim that the “Bible is the True Word of God!” at the top of my lungs, while standing on the highest mountain top in Iraq, without harm to me, my family or my fellow Christians. On the other hand, I have to respect that Muslims believe the very same ‘fact’ about the Koran and Allah. They should be able to make a comparable proclamation in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., without fear of harm. Isn’t that what it’s all about…RESPECT? Why is it so hard to believe that others can believe what they believe with the same fervor as we? Whatever happened to ‘let’s agree to disagree’?
“When we lose respect, we become fanatical egocentrics who not only believe that our way is the right way, but also that it is our responsibility to eradicate the ‘wrong’ way of thinking…by any means necessary (re: September 11, 2001). We know that the people of Christian, Jewish, Islamic and individuals of other faiths are not perfect. The human element plays a big part in how we do what we do; how we express our pleasure and displeasure with others; how we speak out for and fight for freedoms; and how we express those freedoms. However, when our acts intentionally hurt others physically or spread blatant untruths, then the expressions of these freedoms have gone too far. Does burning the Koran in a controlled bonfire kill those directly around it? No. However, it is disturbing that someone who claims to hold Christian values and believes in the Holy Bible would knowingly incite violence that would knowingly result in death. It is even more disturbing that someone who claims to be Christian would justify the deathly results of his acts as ‘collateral damage’, knowing that innocent victims, Christian and non-Christian, would die.
“When your freedom of speech becomes so outrageous that it provokes violence that infringes on my right to live, then, yes, our government has a responsibility to stop it!”
From Alba N. Morales:
“1. Has Freedom of Speech gone too far? I cannot decide on whether freedom of speech has gone to far or not. Regardless I think that no matter what no one has the right to target anyone or offend any religion just because their ways contradict ours. I believe that the burning of the Koran is absolutely irresponsible because those actions are teaching future generations to be close minded towards people of different religion. That type of attitude can be dangerous because what stops it from branching out towards race and or color?. We as americans should always put a strong face foward towards a positive front, burning the Koran is just offending people who already seem to have issues with our country as it is; its just like throwing gas into the fire.
“2. Is Freedom of Religion in danger? Freedom of religion is definitely in danger in our country, and its sad that it is getting worse. I was waitressing last friday sept 10 and a young lady came up to me and asked me about an “event” that will take place that would include burning the Koran, she wanted to attend this event as a memorium to those lost in september 11. I was immediately alarmed that people would think an action like that would be something cool to attend.
“I am not Muslim but in 2002 I spent 4 Months in Saudi Arabia with a Muslim family traveling through out the country as a Youth Ambassador. During the time I spent there I breathed and lived as any Muslim woman would have. That experience has opened my mind to so many things that we dont see as americans here; there are so many positive things as a culture that they can contribute. I hate to say it that I believe that my attitude is unique to the community I reside in. So many people are willing to join the groups exhibiting direct hate towards a culture that they no little or nothing about.
“As a New Yorker I am definitely hurt by the incident on 9/11 but I will not address an entire religion with the same attitude that I would address the fanatical group in that religion that is responsible for so many deaths. Political leaders are balancing their political positions and their internal beliefs, sometimes they do not conicide and when that happens they need to the right thing for the country and stand by the laws that make up this country.”
From Angela D. Robinson:
“1. I think that Freedom of Speech gone too far. If what is said promotes or insinuates the threat of provoking violence then laws should be in place and whomever is stating those statements should be jailed. With that being stated the next thing would be to increase jail time with each instance. Since that is not the case then when statements are made then those making them should be treated like terrorists. This would protect both the individual/s and the public or whatever party, group, affiliation, materials (religious books, etc.) from the threat of violence. These individual’s, groups etc. should not be given media attention in any way, shape or form so as not to promote their messages. In my opinion, they act like children who can’t have their way and are not resourceful in resolving their problems. It is okay to agree or disagree on a subject. There are even cases that already have violence in them and as Americans we should never advocate for more violence because it will only hurt us more.
“2. Freedom of Religion could be in danger if it is made to be quiet. In America we have the right to choose what religion we will practice. However, we don’t have the right to force others into our choice of religion and this seems to be heading in that direction. When Government get’s involved then choke holds are issued and this is a form of slowly silencing those who have a voice. While no one should be instigating violence you should still be able to voice your opinion on topic/s. Religious leaders should rise above pettiness yet still get their message/s across. If all that is done leads to violence or the threat of violence the message will be lost and in some cases the message itself can save many lives. Finding the right way to address these issues have been a problem for mankind since the beginning of time and there seems to be no real solution in sight.”
From Felicia Carter, EDTE 424:
“In my opinion, the Freedom of Speech has not gone too far, it is extremists have gone too far. Each individual has the right to say what is on their mind but also realize that hateful speech could incite violence or riots; which causes the message to become an afterthought. For example, Rev. Terry Jones masquerading as a man of God, threatened to burn the Quran on a day of mourning 9/11. The attack on the World Trade Center was an act of lunacy by a small number of Muslim extremist who used the Quran and their faith to murder over three thousand innocent victims. Freedom of Speech is an Constitutional right that extremists both from home and abroad use to create chaos instead of dialogue.”
From Lihua Mao, EDTE 424:
“Freedom of religion is not in danger because each individual is able to practice their religion as he/she wishes. The government had done great job protecting our rights from practice religion in peace and safety. The president has assured the public that we are free to practice our individual religion. Religious leaders should chill out when it comes to advocating their rights because they should let the public decide what they want for themselves.”
From L. Wallace, Sophomore:
“To be honest, I sometimes feel that we as Americans lack any type of freedom of speech. However, on the occasions in which we do have some, there is a thin line between what we say and us being called terrorists based off of what we say in a conversation and what the color of our skin is. The religious leader who wanted to burn the Koran had all rights to say and to do what he wanted because he’s protected under the law and is white, but if he was a middle easterner and had a group of his fellow friends that wanted to burn the King James and US flag, they’re called terrorists. The US cares strictly about its’ interests. As long as no damage is being caused to the US, it could care less. So I do not feel like freedom of speech has gone too far because we are in so many ways being watched by the government.
“2. Is Freedom of Religion in danger? In the US, I don’t think freedom of religion is in danger. I do think the government should come up with some type of law stating that one religious group can not undermine or demine another religious group for any reason.”
More to come…