I do not speak in defense or support of Mr. Keith Hansen, or his opinions expressed in the Dispatch’s opinion editorials. But I fiercely defend his right to speak what’s on his mind and for the Dispatch to employ the journalists, they are comfortable with.
The first amendment to our Constitution placed freedom of the press on equal footing with an individual’s right of free speech. Public discourse whether by the press or an individual is fundamental to maintaining our freedom to affect and control government.
The founding fathers did not mince words in their support of the right to free speech. After creating our Constitution, they exercised their right to amend that Constitution with the Bill of Rights. Before one goes after the messenger, one would be well served by reviewing the first amendment to our Constitution, found in the Bill of Rights.
“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.”
As citizens we stand into dangerous waters, when the best we can muster to an opinion we disagree with is a figurative “shoot the messenger” approach. We see where that approach has lead today in places like Syria, Egypt and Iran. Sadly, once shooting the messenger becomes acceptable among the citizenry, governments all too soon can follow the same extreme approach.