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All must stand for freedom of expression

Deepak Jain




I believe the keystone of a strong foundation of a meaningful, effective and everlasting democracy is the “freedom of expression.” Without freedom of expression, any form of a democracy is a sham. The despotic rulers and leaders of today, whether political or religious, seem to believe that the key to conquering the minds of any people is to create a threat of terror such as what the world just witnessed in Paris. Sadly, this appears to be working in some corners of the world, but we in the free world cannot and should not succumb to any such threat by suppressing our own freedoms at home or shrugging our shoulders as though it was just another random mass shooting.

I believe the brutal assault against freedom of expression on French soil was a direct attack on the foundation of America. This is why I am disappointed that neither our president nor the secretary of state showed up in Paris with other free world leaders to show America’s support for freedom of expression and to personally present our nation’s condolences to the French people. I am concerned our unexcused absence created the appearance of American weakness and/or ambivalence, which can only empower and embolden the enemies against freedom of expression, who are all enemies of America.

Freedom of expression, as both an ideal and the law in America, is manifest in American independence, individualism, diversity, creativity, innovation, knowledge and tolerance. This has fostered the development of a dynamic economy based on innovation, created a solid educational system that provides opportunity for all, and formed the foundation of a lasting democracy in which everyone is free to worship the deity of their choice — or none at all.

While I may be annoyed with the shameless ways some express themselves on cable news, in the editorial pages, over the internet, through satellite radio or even on a magazine cover, I view that as a very small price to pay for the freedom we all have to express our personal ideas, beliefs and opinions about most everything in life. Also, if I don’t like what I hear, read or see, I have the cherished freedom to change the channel, turn the page, get off YouTube or not buy the magazine. (I also believe in karma.)

Throughout world history, many societies, cultures and governments imprisoned the minds of the populace in order to protect and enhance undeserved and unfair political, religious and/or economic power. Peoples from many walks of life were brutally punished, if not executed, for simply expressing themselves in a way that questioned the status quo set at the time by some despotic ruler or political or religious order. To get a firsthand view of the history of the brutal assault on freedom of expression, one should visit the Instruments of Torture exhibit in San Diego’s Balboa Park. The complete silence at the exhibition speaks loudly of the ghostly screams one will hear in his/her mind from those who were tortured and died for daring to express their minds on things that many don’t give a second thought to placing on any of the social networks on the Internet for all the world to see. At the end of the exhibit, one will learn that in some countries, societies and cultures today one could still be put in prison for years or be subject to a summary death penalty for some of the thoughts shared with your friends on Facebook.

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