From America’s conception, our history is rich with remarkable stories of brave men and women who have willingly sacrificed their lives to protect our countries many freedoms, freedom of speech being one of them. But as American citizens what are we to do when those freedoms are intentionally abused for political gain?
As good citizens we understand both the challenge and importance of exercising tolerance towards other citizen’s right to freedom of speech, even when such speech contains viewpoints contrary or upsetting to our personal viewpoint. We understand that purely provocative actions, such as the burning of our nation’s flag must be protected; even though our guttural instinct may be to sock that offender in their nose, our duty as Americans is to protect their very right to burn that flag.
Last week, US Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) took to the floor of the Senate—conveniently so and thereby insulating himself from charges of slander—Reid claimed that Mitt Romney hasn’t paid taxes for the past decade. This is, of course, a serious accusation, suggesting either a calculated dereliction of Mitt Romney’s duty or, at worst, that Mitt Romney committed a federal crime. But Senator Reid’s only authority offered for this vitriol accusation is an unidentified person of suspicious anonymity.
When questioned about his accusations “off of” the senate floor—where he is not protected against slander—Senator Reid’s remarks have all been “no comment”. Did the anonymous person offer Reid any proof? Reid: “No comment”. Did the anonymous person explain how he would know anything about Mitt Romney’s tax filings? Reid: “No comment”.
A few days later and once again “back on” the senate floor… “Do I know that’s true?” declared Reid. “Well, I’m not certain.” But the burden of proof is on Mitt Romney, not Harry Reid: “Let him prove he has paid taxes because he has not."
So what can we do? Well as Americans, another of our duties is to make ourselves informed and to not be fooled by a coward’s free speech.
Sean M. Morrison
Palos Township Committeeman