OPINION: Exercising the freedom of speech

Published 6:12 am Saturday, September 11, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

To enjoy the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint.

Our first amendment right where Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Censors seek to limit freedom of thought and expression by restricting spoken words, printed matter, symbolic messages, freedom of association, books, art, music, movies, television programs, and Internet sites. When the government engages in censorship, First Amendment freedoms are implicated, according to an article written by Elizabeth R. Purdy at https://www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/896/censorship

Governor Greg Abbott, on Thursday, signed House Bill 20 into law, which protects Texans from wrongful censorship on social media platforms. The Governor was joined for the bill signing by Senators Bryan Hughes and Representative Briscoe Cain, the bill’s authors, as well as Senators Charles Perry, Dawn Buckingham, and Angela Paxton. The Governor named social media censorship legislation as an agenda item for the second special legislative session in August.

House Bill 20 prevents social media companies with more than 50 million monthly users banning users simply based on their political viewpoints. The law also requires several consumer protection disclosures and processes related to content management on the social media sites to which the bill applies. These sites must disclose their content management and moderation policies and implement a complaint and appeals process for content they remove, providing a reason for the removal and a review of their decision. They also must review and remove illegal content within 48 hours. House Bill 20 also prohibits email service providers from impeding the transmission of email messages based on content.

Censorship, the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are “offensive,” happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. Censorship by the government is unconstitutional, according to American Civil Liberties Union.

So, we have the right to speak our opinion, and the government does not have the right to censor us.

However, expecting to be allowed to continuously spread misinformation should not be acceptable. Back in the day, we would suggest changing the channel. Today, thanks to the cell phone we all now carry, we cannot escape from the bombardment of constant information.

There was a time when we could stop and give ourselves a moment to regroup and look at all the information provided and make a logical conclusion. Now, if you do not agree with someone, you are censoring them and preventing them from their freedom of speech.

For some the freedom to think is only if you agree to agree with what they tell you to think.

Somewhere, we forgot an opinion is not a fact and a fact is not an opinion.

Can we agree we all have opinions and we will never all agree on said opinions?

Here at The Orange Leader, we encourage letters to the editor or column submissions. There are guidelines to be followed such as letters to the editor should be 300 words or less, and must include your signature, address and phone number (for verification). Letters on local issues will take top priority; all others will be published on a first-come basis as space allows. Letters considered to be libelous will not be printed. If a letter is determined to require a response, it will be held until a response is received, or the other party declines. The letter and response will be printed in the same issue. The Leader reserves the right to limit frequent writers and reserves the right to reject any letter to the editor.