Two inspiring free speech observations

Yesterday’s post about a private commercial propaganda publication posing as public news when it grossly distorted and discredited the citizen opposition to the VA’s initial plan at Crown Hill cemetery, now prompts posting a couple favorite related excerpts about free speech:

“Where the means of communication fall within the control of a tightly centralized monopoly, free speech becomes a meaningless gesture, a useless privilege When and if the opportunity does come, one must make the most of it or betray thy neighbors and thyself.”  (Edward Abbey, Vox Clamantis in Deserto, A Voice Crying in the Wilderness, 1989)

Also, this inspiring excerpt from Richard Nelson:

“Like many other of my generation (ed: a 1960s student protester), the idea of “patriotism” has not rested comfortably on my soul… at least not until recently.

I now see that our conservation work is intricately engaged with, and dependent upon, the process of democracy.  I see that every meeting. every written comment, every day in court, every letter to the editor, every newspaper article, every public testimony, every conversation with leaders and officials and neighbors, every ballot initiative, every act of advocacy and protest – every one of these things – is a manifestation of our freedom to speak, to influence decisions, to affect government policies, to educate voters, and above all to change the way our society behaves toward its environment.

With my own eyes, I can see the results of our work:  whole mountainsides, broad valleys, and sprawling islands covered with lush, living forest.  Places that would have become barren lands of stumps and slash if we had not used our voices.  And if we did not live in a nation where people speaking for the land can be heard.  Activists in many other countries have far less opportunity or no opportunity at all, to influence what happens in their environment. Because of this, I am grateful for our democratic process (despite all its imperfections) and for our freedom to speak out.”

Richard Nelson, Patriots for the American Land, 2002, The Orion Society


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