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Tolerance of Free Speech

Last Saturday, I was at a writer’s association meeting. It was posted beforehand that a speaker would be coming in to talk about marketing our books. A former acquaintance of mine, who had not been to a meeting in a while, came to this particular meeting. Most of us were early.

A latecomer came in ranting her despair over the national election results. My acquaintance was quite offended and asked if we could all “operate with the understanding that some of us may think differently.” The latecomer agreed, but stayed on her rant for a bit more. My acquaintance packed up her stuff and left.

I myself agreed with my acquaintance. I do not like to mix politics or religion with anything. I was glad she spoke up. On the other hand, if my acquaintance had stayed for a minute longer, she would have enjoyed a very educational presentation.

Freedom of speech is a tenet in American culture. Yes, some people do not have the discretion to restrain themselves when necessary. But everyone has the right to rant. As long as the rant does not upstage the presentation everyone was expecting, I’m all for getting the short rant out if one feels he or she must do so – as long as it is short. It is just as much your right to agree or shake your head in disbelief. As Americans, we can do with information what we choose once it is given. We can be informed by it or dismiss it as trash. That is the American way!

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