Up & Coming Weekly

March 29, 2022

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM MARCH 30 - APRIL 5, 2022 UCW 5 OPINION We Americans take great pride in our Constitutional right to free speech. It is, after all, the very first amendment we made to our Con- stitution in our clarifying Bill of Rights in 1791. e First Amend- ment protects us from government restrictions on our speech, but it is widely interpreted as a right to voice our thoughts in public. We cherish it, in part, because other nations do not have such a guarantee for their people, a sad reality on full display during Russia's invasion of Ukraine. So, it is not surprising that a recent editorial in the New York Times with the headline America has a free speech problem" caught my atten- tion. e Times' editorial board de- scribes our problem this way. "For all the tolerance and enlightenment that modern society claims, Americans are losing hold of a fundamental right as citizens of a free country: the right to speak their minds and voice their opinions in public without fear of being shamed or shunned ... the old lesson of 'think before you speak' has given way to the new lesson of 'speak at your peril.'" e Times lays much of the blame for this dangerous situation on the vicious ideological war between the right and left of our political system, with one side pretending "cancel culture" does not exist and the other side attacking rapid societal change with laws banning books and censor- ing some discussions in schools and colleges. What's more, the newspaper has teamed with Siena College to poll on this issue. Here are some of its ques- tions … be honest with yourself as you read them! • Over the past year, have you held your tongue because you were concerned about retalia- tion or harsh criticism? • Over the past year, have you retaliated against or harshly criticized another person because of something he or she said? • How much of a problem is it that some Americans do not exercise their freedom of speech in everyday situations out of fear of retaliation or harsh criticism? No matter how you responded per- sonally, 55% of those polled said they had indeed held their tongues, more women than men and slightly more Republicans than Democrats. Fewer, 22%, reported that they had done the retaliating, more younger folks and more liberals than conservatives. And, not surprisingly, fully 84% believe fear of retaliation for express- ing one's opinions is a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" problem. Nearly half said they feel less free to talk about politics now than they did ten years ago. Millions of us are worried about this, and with good reason. Living in a free society requires respectful communication, not the free-flowing, often incorrect and false and/or unattributed vitriol on various social media platforms. Large num- bers of us read, believe and dissemi- nate misinformation, and disinfor- mation is damaging our nation. We cannot communicate with — much less understand — each other if we do not respect each other's right to express our opinions, no matter how much we might disagree with those opinions. If we are honest with ourselves, most of us identify with one political side. At this time in our nation's history, few of us actually have open minds. Conversion is not the point. e point, the concern, the danger is that we have lost the will and the ability to communicate respectfully when we disagree with each other. We see each other not as fellow Americans with differing points of view but as enemies. If that is true, we have squandered our precious right to free speech. erefore, we have canceled each other and our precious First Amend- ment right. MARGARET DICKSON, Columnist. COMMENTS? Editor@ upandcomingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. Lets be honest about 'Free Speech' by MARGARET DICKSON All American Homes Presents Throwback Collaboration Band with Special Guest judah Marshall Food, Soft Drinks, Beer & Wine on Sale Cash Bar w/ all ABC Permits PLUS Music, dancing, food + Fun! Continue the fun at our After Party 10 pm-UNTIL Gates open 5:00 musical Guest 6:00-7:00 TCB 7:30-10:00 FREE CONCERT! April 1 st KIM EVERS TEAM

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