Fear mongers over the years have tried to convince us that our freedom in this country is threatened by the loss to our Freedom of Speech. Greg Lukianoff (New Threats to Freedom, Youtube) has asserted that this threat is prevalent in the very organizations that should be promoting freedom of speech, our colleges. I couldn’t disagree more. The real threat is losing our voice.
This country was founded on individuals having a voice. On being heard, and on making sure, regardless of whether we agree or not, that each of us has a say. Our voice describes the vision the founding fathers had when they helped create this great nation. Freedom of Speech is a right, and a tool, used to allow us the ability to maintain our voice.
The threat to our freedom in this country is not the loss of Freedom of Speech as Mr. Lukianoff would have us believe (either on campus or off). No, it is the voluntary repression of this basic and fundamental expression of who we are, of what we believe in, what we stand for, and our understanding of what is right and just. It is the repression of our voice that is the greatest threat to our Freedom in this country.
There are several places where we are faced with the repression of our voice, and the voluntary loss of this freedom; at work, in the polls, and in our representative government.
In the workplace, infractions against employees could take years to resolve. Walmart is a great example of this. In 2007 Walmart settled numerous class action lawsuits from employees and former employees for unpaid overtime (Walmart settled for over $600 million after over 10 years of legal fight)(MSNBC.Com, 2007).
Walmart is not the only culprit. The FAA was able to deflect some questionable practices recently when an Air Traffic Controller at Washinton’s Reagan Airport fell asleep, and two aircraft landed without proper procedures. The press didn’t mention that this controller was alone in the tower, and that as a “Supervisor” this person should have had someone to supervise. And why was there only one person?
To get a better understanding of this threat to freedom, we look at another aspect of this voluntary loss of voice. Voter turnout. Statistics on voter turnout in National Elections are dismal. The rate of approximately 56% of voting age voters is pathetic (InfoPlease.com 2008 National Elections). This is a voluntary suppression of our collective voice, and is a serious threat to our freedoms in this country. A country founded on democratic principles must have a majority vote to demonstrate democratic representation.
A very common expression is that “if you don’t vote, you can’t complain about who gets elected”. This is a representative government which means that even if the person elected is not who you voted for, you can still call them up and let them know of your acceptance, or disapproval of their voting.
Your voice can make a difference, and the reverse is also very true; your lack of voice can have serious consequences. Use that voice at work, at home, and with your vote. you can eliminate the greatest threat to freedom by using your voice and being heard.
Lukianoff, Greg “Lukianoff on Free Speech” (New Threats to Freedom, Youtube)
National Election Statistics, Election Statistics from 1960 to present
MSNBC, AP News, “Walmart settles overtime dispute”, 2009