Freedom of Speech protects democratic process

Dear Editor:

This reflects on last weeks editorial in The Columbia Valley Pioneer. It appears that someone holds the view that controversial issues ought not be discussed in newspapers, but, rather, should be forwarded to specialist groups for a worthy opinion.

Seven hundred and ninety-nine years ago, Magna Carta introduced a process whereby citizens would influence how they were governed.

Canadians generally take pride in our Bill of Rights and the Constitution of Canada, both of which enshrine, among other guarantees, the right of free speech and freedom of the press.

Most could not voice an opinion on many issues if they were not exposed to a variety of ideas. Such exposure is often the result of media comment.

Surely, it should be obvious to all that Freedom of Speech was not put in place to protect popular opinion.

Freedom of Speech is intended to protect the society whole; including fringe views from persons with new and different perspectives. The intent is to foster debate.

Moreover, it is the duty of the press to lay before us such a variety of views so we individuals can sift and sort as we search for our own conclusions.

Being mad at a reported issue can be good. If we are right in opposing a view, we still need to debate the pros and cons in our mind, a process that tests our resolve.

We should want to test our thoughts as this is the process that allows for certainty or adjustment. Anyone who strongly disagrees with an idea should counter that view. No one should seek an approach where disagreeable thoughts are blocked from exposure. If controversial debate were to be smothered, what would such an advocates response be when his/her opinions could never be examined?

In a pluralistic society, we expect a range of viewpoints, but that is both the joy and the burden of democracy.

To assume that we would hive off tough decisions to some so-called specialists is an abdication of the democratic process. Moreover, it would be a short time before the specialists became our enemies.

Democracy requires broad-based thinking, and thinking cannot take place without information.

Information that favours only safe majority opinions advocates for a place where we watch change and excuse ourselves from participation. Some democracy that would be!

Arnold Malone


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