Price of Freedom

We hear a lot in the news about the price of our freedoms. Usually it is in reference to the price we pay in lives defending our freedoms by sending troops to the middle east. I feel that the real price we pay for freedom, the one we pay everyday and will continue to pay so long as we wish to be a truly free society, was thrust into the limelight yesterday in Toledo, OH. If you haven't seen this in the news yet, a group called the National Socialist Movement had made arrangements for a police protected march through a portion of town. The National Socialist Movement is a self-called Nazi organization, promoting white supremacy ideals. What ensued was a major clash between local residents and youth gangs and the police ordered to supervise the march.

I want to make very clear that I couldn't disagree more with the politics that the National Socialist Movement promotes. I say that because I don't want there to be any confusion that I am defending their organization. However, I mentioned that Toledo was an example of the price we pay for our freedoms. The price we pay for our freedom of speech, our freedom of press, and our freedom to associate is that we have to endure others promoting ideas we don't agree with. Larry Flint is probably the greatest exploiter of this situation. Flint owns the publication house that produces pornographic magazines like Hustler, which have arguably little artistic content. Still, Flint has time and again found himself in front of the Supreme Court and other high courts, defending his right to produce such a publication based on those same freedoms we hold so dear.

Unfortunately, the result of the gathering in Toledo was chaos. Rather than ignore the march, which would deal the harshest blow possible to the group, people turned out in force and began rioting. This was precisely the type of behavior that the National Socialist Movement had hoped to incite, as it would reinforce the beliefs they promote. The people who turned out to riot were, in fact, helping the organization by providing much publicized images that they could then turn and use in their pamphlets.

The sad truth is that in order to enjoy our freedoms, we must also pay the price that we allow those with differing views from ours (and even ugly, disgusting beliefs like the National Socialist Movement promotes) be allowed to exercise their rights as much as we do. The best weapon that the people of Toledo could use against this group is not stones and rioting and violence, but to not provide any eyes and ears to receive the message. It is a difficult choice to make, to protest through inaction rather than action, but it is absolutely the best method in this case.


Paul said...

well put!

'freedom' is so often confused with 'the right to do exactly as one pleases'. freedom and human rights are negotiated compromises not justifications for any type of behaviour.

to truly embrace freedom of speech we must be prepared to tolerate the speech of others even if their views are utterly abhorrant to us. our energies should be channeled not into sensoring the voices we disagree with but towards educating our society to make the right choices of which voices it choses to listen to.

Adam said...


Anonymous said...

I agree. I always find it fascinating that the less informed people in society seem to think it is only THEIR right to free speech that is valid. No, I have the freedom to disagree with you and vice-versa. That's what makes this country great. And, yes, as hard as it is, somtimes the best offense is just to ignore people/groups seeking attention

Jade Mason