The America of today would be unrecognizable to those who began this country. The ones who fought for freedom and said, “All Men are Created Equal” wouldn’t recognize what we’ve become. So many things have led to this, I couldn’t create a list of them even if I wanted to. So, let’s just focus on one. It’s a phrase I’m sure you’ve heard, “Cancel Culture.”
A form of public shaming, cancel culture demands that someone deemed “offensive” be canceled by society. Here’s the question I have: Who defines offensive? For example, I personally find it extremely offensive that preborn babies can be murdered because they are unwanted. A pro-choice advocate, however, would find it offensive to suggest that a woman shouldn’t be permitted to do whatever she wants with her body, negating the life of the preborn entirely. In many cases, offensive is entirely different based on your point of view and both sides believe in their rightness above all else.
Ironically enough, the Founding Fathers put checks in place for this very activity. They certainly couldn’t know how social media and cancel culture would lead to bullying and the inability to hear a different viewpoint without becoming offended. However, they did recognize man’s predisposition to argue over just about anything. So, when building our country, they accounted for this predisposition. The Bill of Rights was amended in 1791, a mere four years after the United States Constitution was signed. The very First Amendment, kicking off the Bill of Rights, covers freedom of speech.
The amendment reads, “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.”
Gary May, a veteran who lost both legs to a landmine explosion while serving in Vietnam, described the First Amendment freedoms eloquently in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee where he spoke against a Flag Desecration Amendment in 1999. He said, “I am offended when I see the flag burned or treated disrespectfully. As offensive and painful as this is, I still believe those dissenting voices need to be heard … The freedom of expression, even when it hurts, is the truest test of our dedication to the belief that we have that right.”
A man who loved his country, fought and sacrificed for it still believed something he personally abhorred, burning the United States flag, should be allowed because infringing individual rights, even those we find offensive, is a slippery slope. What is offensive itself is subjective.
I realize that we are in a country now where two sides are loudly yelling that the other side is wrong, horrible and immoral. However, regardless of which of the two factions is louder, the effects of impeding free speech will be felt by everyone. And, whether you realize it or not, saying that someone deserves to be ostracized and canceled because of their personal beliefs is doing just that. No one has the right to tell another what they must or must not say.
Call to Action: My request here is simple, stop being so offended by everything around you. It’s not hard to find people to agree or disagree with you. What is more difficult is to find someone that disagrees but leaves the argument peaceably. I do have the right to say whatever I want, so do you. You don’t have to like my words; I don’t have to like yours. But, at the end of the day, we need to find a way to live peaceably in, “One nation, under God, indivisible”. Our continued inability to do so will bring about the destruction of our free nation.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”