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The real reason why we're losing our freedom of speech



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January 26, 2011 | 07:58 AM
The concept of political correctness has run rampant and is ruining this country and our freedoms.

According to Webster's dictionary, being politically correct means "conforming or adhering to what is regarded as orthodox liberal opinion on matters of sexuality, race, etc."

But, it also states that the term is "usually used disparagingly to connote dogmatism, excessive sensitivity to minority causes, etc."

During the past few years, I think political correctness is being used to limit freedom of speech.

It seems as if we can't say anything without someone screaming that they are offended.

The definition of offend is to "create resentment, anger or displeasure, give offense or to hurt the feelings of, cause to feel resentful, angry or displeased." Offense implies "displeased or hurt feelings as a result of a slight, insult, etc."

President Barack Obama dislikes America and is a Socialist. I'm sure several of you are saying to yourself, "I'm offended by that." Others may be calling that statement racist. That's another topic for another day.

Here's another one. Sarah Palin is a dimwit who needs to write on her hands to remember what she actually believes. I probably offended some more of you with that one. I'm not sorry to those of you who feel offended for either statement. We still live in America, right? Land of the free, home of the brave and all that?

Anyone in this country should be free to state those types of opinions. But, when people claim they are offended or say that you're racist or sexist for making a statement that has nothing to do with race or sex, what happens?

Some people are going to stop speaking their minds. That's exactly the problem with this sensitivity and focus on political correctness. The most dangerous words in America aren't what you think they are anymore. Today, they are "I'm offended," or "That offends me."

Remember, in most cases you allow yourself to "be offended." Nobody has the full power to control what "offends" you or how you react to something that legitimately is offensive.

On our website, we allow people to comment on our stories and blogs. The past week or so was a little feisty with the lead up to the National Football Conference Championship game between the Packers and the Bears. There were some comments and foul language posted that was inappropriate and removed when it was discovered. However, before that could happen, our feedback abuse report went crazy, including people who claimed to "be offended" by the language.

Come on people, as if you haven't ever heard those words before. It's likely your favorite comedian uses some of them in every sentence. But, on our website, your poor virgin eyeballs couldn't take it.

I did it again. I just offended some of you didn't I? See how silly we have all become?

But, some of this is not silly. It's serious.

Take the recent shooting tragedy in Tucson, Ariz. This unexplainable event elevated many people's sensitivity to words and how they are used. But, instead of blaming a single lunatic for wielding a gun and killing six innocent people for no reason, some in this nation have suggested certain words and political rhetoric led to the killings.

Suddenly, no longer can we say these words — "crosshairs," "job-killing," "battleground," targeted race," or "collateral damage."

Everybody has to tone it down, some of the pundits said. Look what happens when we offend and hurt people and talk this way — people kill other people.

That is purely ridiculous. The very thought, with no evidence, that political bickering on either side had anything to do with a crazy person killing people at a grocery store is an assault on American's intelligence.

When we can no longer say certain words for fear of setting someone off on a violent spree, we end the discussion. When we have to so carefully choose our words so as to ensure we do not "offend" anyone else, that's no longer free speech.

And that doesn't make for a freer or better country. I would argue it's the first step toward the end of this great Republic.

Let's choose free speech over feelings and emotions. Let's choose intelligent discussions in which we will probably disagree. Let's not allow hurt feelings to stop us from talking about the real issues that matter to all of us.

There's a reason why it's the First Amendment and not the seventh or eighth.

As Americans, we should never forget that.

Seiser is the editor of the Regional News.

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