We live in a very polarized country right now and unless you’ve been living under a rock the last couple of years you are well aware of that.
On Monday we published a cartoon on our Opinion Page that upset some people. Could a different one have been chosen? Sure, but what’s the purpose of having an Opinion Page if we choose to allow only one opinion to appear here? Did it step on some toes? Sure it did. But have you ever wondered what the price of free speech is? It’s allowing those who may disagree with you to have a voice too.
That wasn’t the case on Jan. 7, 2015, when 12 people lost their lives in Paris, France because of a terror attack. What sparked that terror attack? A cartoon that appeared in a satirical publication and took aim at the Prophet Mohammed. The attackers said that they “avenged the Prophet.”
There’s no belief that the cartoon we published is going to create a situation that’s even close to that of what happened in Paris, but it illustrates the extreme ends that some people will go to protect their views and what they hold sacred, especially with those to whom they disagree with. What happened to agreeing to disagree? It’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes, but it’s what makes our country great.
"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it" is sometimes attributed to founding father Patrick Henry, although that too is disputed. However, the premise of freedom of speech is one which this newspaper will not dispute but will defend, no matter our personal views.
The first amendment to our Constitution protects all of us, not some of us, when it comes to the ability to speak our minds freely. Here it is to refresh our memories:
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.
Perhaps we can use this cartoon, and the many like it on both sides of the aisle, to help us to find some common ground to stand on, instead of drawing lines in the sand.