One of Our Most Precious Rights... Freedom of Speech
Live Free or Die – General John Stark
The New Hampshire state motto – ‘Live Free or Die’ - articulates so perfectly the spirit that lies at the heart of our First Amendment freedoms. Stated eloquently by one of our state’s true heroes, General John Stark. However, the motto is NOT the full quote. Please enjoy this short video – where you can learn ‘the rest of the story….
Hong Kong’s Struggle Is an American Struggle
Hong Kong’s recent fight to protect its freedom has been largely ignored by the media but it is a modern-day American Revolution. For many years, the people of Hong Kong were able to enjoy great freedom under British rule and continued to enjoy these freedoms more recently during the ensuing 20+ years since being reunited as a ‘city-state’ under China. However, earlier this year, things began to change when China cracked down and began along the path of eroding the core freedoms prevalent for so long. Critically, China crossed a decisive threshold demanding that citizens of Hong Kong be subject to extradition and unfair trials prevalent in Chinese courts. Thus, making Hong Kongers – especially dissidents exercising their rights of free speech - subject to intimidation and punishment by the Chinese state and its lawless and totalitarian regime.
In retaliation and rebellion, the citizens of Hong Kong have now conducted full blown protests for the last twenty-three weeks, clashing with police and openly defying orders from their would-be oppressors. To put this in context, in a recent protest, nearly 2 million people took to demonstrating in the streets – in a nation of only 7 million people. This is what happens when you quickly take away rights that people have enjoyed; they push back and do so violently.
Unfortunately, in contrast, what we see now here in America is a slow erosion of our liberties. I speak in my book about a frog being placed in boiling water – it quickly jumps out. But when placed in cold water and the heat slowly turned up, it will boil to death and die unaware of what is happening. The same principle holds true for our freedoms. We must be ever vigilant to the slow deterioration of our freedoms here at home and of course we must stand with our Hong Kong brothers and sisters as they work to protect their freedoms and preserve their human dignity.
Freedom of Speech Thrives at NH Town Meeting…
It Doesn’t Get More Democratic Than This…
By Christine Benner
As a Midwesterner, town meetings are a foreign concept. Where I grew up in Illinois, a small farm town about an hour northwest of Chicago, our local government was run by committees and while village board meetings were open to the public, a vast majority of citizens rarely went. When my husband and I moved to Newport, NH last year, there was a lot to learn including your typical first-time homeowner issues: fixing a leak in home heating oil, finding a snow-blower, and removing wallpaper from the early 1940’s. But nothing was more interesting than Town Meeting.
In Mid-March, notices started to be placed around town about the ‘2019 Town Meeting’. Having a vested interested in some of the items going to be discussed, we decided to go. I will be honest, we had no idea what to expect! I thought maybe it would take an hour, discuss the important issues that were going to be on the ballot especially the proposed Community Center. When we arrived at the historic Opera House on April 2nd, I learned quickly how active New England politics really are. There was a line out the door to check in, families, town leadership, people I know from the grocery store and the post office, residents from all backgrounds gathered in one place on one night to discuss the future of our shared interests. It was incredible.
The first item to be discussed was chickens. Yes, chickens. Proposed to be on the ballot this year was the ‘Chicken Ordinance’ that would allow residents the ability to keep chickens, not roosters however, on their property, no matter where they lived. While my husband and I got a good chuckle out of the conversation that ensued – for example, how many roosters would be allowed across town, why aren’t ducks allowed, etc., - you couldn’t help but notice the democratic process at work. In America, we are blessed to have the constitutional right to discuss, argue, and vote on chickens. While others across the world are fighting for their freedom, we must never stop exercising the rights guaranteed to us in the US Constitution especially on a local level. We must cherish institutions like the Town Meeting because that means the democratic process, thus our personal freedoms, are alive and well.
Freedom of Speech on the College Campus
It’s a striking contrast. Colleges and universities are meant to be places where there is academic freedom and the opportunity to freely debate ideas. Yet, recently they have become just the opposite. Where ‘lock step’ doctrine is preached and the freedom to express individual views rigidly suppressed. In fact, it may (or may not) shock you to learn – that at 9 out of 10 college campuses around the country, there are university regulations restricting the right to free speech!
We are proud to say, however, that in New Hampshire we are about to address this problem. There is a bill being introduced to the Legislature for this coming session that would guarantee First Amendment freedoms on college campuses.
Representative Gates Lucas representing Sunapee and Croydon, as well as a recent graduate of Dartmouth College, is sponsoring the bill and has secured numerous co-sponsors. At a time when there is so much divisiveness in our country, we need to be on a path toward positivity. And, one of the very best ways to get there is to support open and full debate – letting the sunshine of truth illuminate our public discourse.
Protecting Our Freedom – Grateful To Our Military
Without our servicemen and women, the rights we possess would be under constant threat of extinction - especially free speech. In a day and age where we see tyrannical governments stomping on the liberties of their citizens, I am beyond thankful to live in the Land of the Free, more specifically in New Hampshire, America's freest state. On Saturday, our military was given the green light for nearly 100 commandos to execute the unbelievably difficult task of taking out ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Successfully completing this mission is just another example of what makes the United States such a force deserving of international respect. Our citizens are filled with pride this week as a brutal and disgusting human being was finally dealt with - once again at the hands of our selfless and inspiring military men and women. The human rights violations, persecutions, and atrocities that al-Baghdadi committed run entirely counter to the liberty, freedom, and respect that Americans cherish. It is people like al-Baghdadi that seek to destroy the freedoms we possess and that is why I ask you to take a moment to be thankful for all of the privileges that we possess as Americans. We are enormously grateful and extend our deepest thanks to our active and veteran military service members.
Profile of the Week: Archie Mountain
As the Editor of the Argus Champion, Archie Mountain has been the eyes and ears of Newport over many decades. His commitment to everything ‘Sunshine Town’ is infectious. No matter when, where, or who, Archie will be there with his camera and note pad, sharing the town’s ‘happenings’ with everyone in and around Newport. He does it all: photos, articles, even participating. In fact, Archie was there the night that we ‘kicked’ off the Newport Sunshine Initiative and he has been to almost every meeting since. He attended and covered the Sunflower Festival – even pointing out where to see the tallest sunflowers in town.
His dedication to Newport earned him the Citizen of the Year award by the Newport Chamber of Commerce in 2013. Archie’s commitment to seeking the truth and reporting on everything, including those topics that may not be popular exemplifies the importance of the First Amendment. A free press means a free society and its reporters like Archie Mountain that defend our democratic way of life.
Quotes of the Week: Freedom of Speech
“Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom - and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech.” - Benjamin Franklin
“Freedom of speech and thought matters, especially when it is speech and thought with which we disagree. The moment the majority decides to destroy people for engaging in thought it dislikes, thought crime becomes a reality.” - Ben Shapiro
“Here's a nation, one of the founding pillars was freedom of speech and freedom of expression. And yet, we have imposed upon people restrictions on what they can say, on what they can think. And the media is the largest proponent of this, crucifying people who say things really quite innocently.” - Ben Carson
“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” - George Washington
“Hand in hand with freedom of speech goes the power to be heard, to share in the decisions of government which shape men's lives.” -Robert Kennedy