Most people who know me will tell you that I am a firm supporter of our constitutional and natural rights. I believe that agents of the government should have to get a warrant before searching our things. I believe that citizens have a right, along with responsibilities, to carry firearms. Of utmost importance is our right to freedom of speech. When a society becomes unable to express itself without fear of reprisal from the government, then that society is headed for either enslavement or revolution.
I also believe that these rights do not come free. Each citizen has a responsibility to protect these rights. Not everyone gets the honor of protecting them on a battlefield or as part of serving our country. However, everyone gets to protect them by acting prudently. Our courts have long ago ruled that even speech that most of us find reprehensible is protected. That does not mean I will like you if you go out and burn an American flag. Most likely you would be met with me exercising my right to call you a few choice words of my own.
I do have to ask though, where does one draw the line? While we can always express ourselves, when do we ask “is this appropriate for me to say?” Having the right does not give one carte blanche to proceed without concern for others or to express our selves without regard for how it affects others. It is well established that acts such yelling fire in a crowded theater are unacceptable and illegal, unless of course the building is actually on fire. One needs to use some common sense.
In a recent editorial, a parent railed on about her child not being able to express himself at school. The parent saw no issue with her child wearing a pink “I love boobies” bracelet to school in support of breast cancer research. Granted, I think it is a great lighthearted expression about a serious issue, but probably not one that belongs in an elementary school setting.
Educators do not always have the luxury of treating these situations disparately. A teacher is not able to let your kid wear the boobie bracelet because you support breast cancer. If they do, they are sure to be sued for not letting another parent’s child wear a Hooters t-shirt because daddy likes the wings and wants to be supportive of young women working their way through college.
There are many ways to express a child’s support for an organization you or your child firmly believe in without exposing hundreds of other children to slang terms for the female anatomy. One can make a donation to an organization in the child’s name as a birthday or Christmas gift. Help them collect cans to donate to a charitable organization. Above all, teach them to use their freedom of expression to express themselves appropriately. This will teach them that by doing so they will garner the respect and support of others. Teach them to ignore this responsibility and you will ensure that others will garner support for attacking their freedom.