Don’t Mess With Free Speech and Freedom of Expression
As a follow up to my Don’t Be a Bully Post I am going to expand a bit on why I thought it needed to be posted. Coeur d’Alene has several different art galleries and a thriving arts and culture community. For the most part controversy over an artist’s work has been rare. There was a big hubbub over a Ganesha Statue a few years back, but as usual, it was a small minority of people who took issue and wanted to force the rest of us to conform to their will. Didn’t happen. The statue stayed.
Now we have another issue about a piece that is currently displayed in an art gallery front window. Again, it is a small group, (claiming they are a large group), shouting for the gallery owner to remove the statue from the front window. If you want to read more about the story you can find it here in our local paper Art or Blasphemy?
What I want to highlight is the fact that a handful of these people have been leaving reviews for the gallery (essentially making threats that the statue should be removed or…insert what ever here), plus emailing, a visit to the gallery, and direct messaging via Facebook using the same threatening language under the guise of “protecting the children”, religious freedoms, etc. etc.
I support freedom for all people regardless of their religious or non-religious beliefs, what I don’t condone is trying to force your beliefs onto others. Or trying to make people do something they legally don’t have to do, because you are offended. I would prefer that people don’t leave their religious pamphlets in my door. I would prefer not being stopped when I am enjoying a day/evening downtown by someone trying to preach to me. But, I kindly throw the pamphlets in the trash and respectfully tell the person that I am not interested, but I don’t start a campaign to prevent them from being able to do that.
If we start regulating what people can display in the front windows of their businesses the next step is your yard. How would you like being told to remove the cross from your front yard, or that you can not have the nativity scene at your church? Those are all there for public viewing by anyone who passes just like anything in a shop owners window. You can not have your cake and eat it too.
Once you start this kind of ball rolling it just picks up momentum and pretty soon there will be no praying in public, no displays of anything, it will be a homogenized world that will start to look like the world in the book “1984” If you haven’t read it you might want to at least read the Cliff notes. That place is not one I want to live in and I hope it isn’t what you want either.
Although I feel bad that some were offended and somehow feel slighted I am more concerned about the fact our community spent more energy on a statue in an art gallery window than on the 2-year-old little girl who was run over last night. If only that received the same amount of time and energy. I am sure the family could have used some compassion and love today, but people were too busy with an issue that ultimately does not make our world a better happier place. Putting in some energy to make sure that more children aren’t injured by vehicle drivers seems like a better endeavor. (Funding for Safe Routes to School, Education for all road users, etc.)
Today, my energy was put toward making sure that more children aren’t injured by vehicle drivers and helping my clients be the best they can be. The art gallery issue only interrupted me a few times today, it was to make sure that love was sent to the art gallery owner because she is a human being with feelings too.
So I ask that as you read this you send some love out into the universe for a little girl and her family and include some for the driver of the vehicle because no one wins in a situation like that.
The final thought I wanted to share is this letter from one of our representatives. He makes me proud to have voted for him! (and PS before you jump to any conclusions about my religious beliefs, political affiliations, etc. you will probably be wrong!)