Freedom of speech should be respected

Published 9:34 pm Thursday, March 17, 2011

There’s something about the fight in a person that makes you respect them even more. There’s something about the passion they have for their job, their role in the community that makes you appreciate them even more.

Even though you may not agree with their position, their passion or their role, it is the common respect for another person that separates our culture from others.

French writer, historian and philosopher Voltaire may have been the person to best sum up the definition of civil debate and the foundation of our nation’s freedom of speech, when he said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

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This summer and fall, a group of citizens in Selma felt the coverage provided by the newspaper on a number of topics was not what they had hoped, what they expected nor what they wanted.

While we disagreed with their arguments, we admired them for their passion in voicing their displeasure, even going as far as civilly picketing the newspaper on a nearby street corner.

Many would ask us if we were upset by their actions. Our quick response was no. Why would we — a company who thrives on the luxuries of the First Amendment — be upset with a group exercising their First Amendment rights?

Such is the case with the ongoing battle to save three schools in Selma against closure.

In each case, administrators and principals have taken to the newspaper to voice their opinion, knowing it is in direct opposition to that of their bosses, members of the school board and others.

It is that passion, that dedication to their cause and a belief in what they are accomplishing each day that we admire. And, we are happy they felt they could come to us to better communicate their opinions.